Last week I was interviewed on a secular radio station, Radio 2000, concerning Christmas. I always appreciate the opportunity to have interviews on secular radio stations as it provides a tremendous opportunity for evangelism.
During the interview I was asked whether Christmas shouldn’t be made more inclusive to accommodate other religions. (Last week I also read an article from WorldNetDaily concerning a New York village which decided to place an Islamic star and crescent alongside the community’s official Christmas tree. As the WND writer commented: “One wonders if there are any wise men amongst the town’s leaders?”).
My response was that Jesus is the reason for the season. Wise men still seek Him. Christians have never suggested that Jewish people need to make Yom Kippur more inclusive for Gentiles, nor has anyone suggested that Muslims adapt Ramadan to accommodate Christians, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists!
Christmas is the greatest holiday in the year celebrating the birth of the greatest person who ever lived. The Church of Jesus Christ is still the greatest, and most effective, charitable organisation in the world. Christians do more to alleviate the suffering of fallen and lost humanity than any and all other agencies on earth. This is why we give gifts at Christmas time: to remind us and our children of the greatest gift of all – God’s Son. Jesus Christ is Emmanuel – God with us. He has come and made the greatest sacrifice to fill the greatest need for the greatest number of people in history.
We need forgiveness for sin and freedom from sin. We need life, light and love. We need grace – undeserved favour – and it is in Jesus Christ that we find the mercy we so desperately need. We are lost and He is the Good Shepherd that shows us the way. We are often deceived and confused, but He is the Truth. We were dead in our trespasses and sins, but He is the Life and through Him we receive spiritual life, abundant life and eternal life.
Even the figure of Father Christmas is based on Saint Nicolas, a Christian who secretly gave gifts to the poor at Christmas time in order to express his love and gratitude to the Lord for His great gift.
We decorate for special occasions, such as weddings, coronations, birthdays, etc. So why not for this special day above all special days – the official birthday of the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
It is appropriate that the greatest holiday on calendars worldwide celebrates the birth of the greatest person who ever lived. All charities report that this is their best time of the year for donations. It is quite appropriate that so many acts of charity, good neighbourliness, friendship and generosity are expressed during the Christmas season, to family, friends, neighbours and to strangers.
The famous American actor (most recently known for the Expelled! – No Intelligence Allowed! film) gave the following statement on CBS television in America: “I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it doesn’t bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up bejeweled trees, Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say ‘Merry Christmas’ to me. I don’t think they are slighting me…In fact I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my home…I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around. I’ve no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.
“Or maybe I can put it in another way: "where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship God…?"
“Billy Graham’s daughter was asked:‘How could God let something like this happen?’ (Regarding Hurricane Katrina). She gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said: “I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we have been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?”
Ben Stein then pointed out that terrorist attacks and school shootings have happened in institutions which have rejected the Bible and thrown out prayer. The Bible says that we should not kill and we should not steal, but we should rather love our neighbour as ourself. Madeleine Murray O’Hare, who campaigned to have the Bible taken out of schools, was murdered.
“Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock’s son committed suicide)….
“Now we ask ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves?
“Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.
“Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world is going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send jokes through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.”
It is time to put Christ back into Xmas. Jesus is the reason for the season. Wise men still seek Him.
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74
Cape Town, South Africa