Christmas is a huge thing in the south of India. As the rainy season draws to a close and winter approaches, there is a sense of excitement that slowly builds up towards the end of the year. It is a time everyone looks forward to. Because Christianity has reached some of the remotest parts of villages and towns, as surprising as one might think it to be, there are now Christian streets and villages! These villages are decorated once a year during Christmas time with massive star-shaped electric objects and strings of multi-coloured electric bulbs lighting up the church buildings and houses. It just looks wonderful in the evenings! Christmas also gives Christians an opportunity to cook special dishes, wear new clothes, meet relatives and friends and attend a plethora of Christmas-oriented activities. Although people from other religions have innumerable festivals, Christians in the villages only have one occasion to celebrate.
Now, there are many well-meaning Bible-believing Christians who firmly believe that there shouldn’t be any Christmas celebrations at all. And, they say that celebration (Christian joy) shouldn’t be tied down to one single day (December 25th). And some argue that all celebration is tightly rooted to gluttony, drunkenness and immorality which was common in pagan celebrations. There is no doubt that gluttony, drunkenness and immorality are dangerous sins that Christians should have no part in, whether one celebrates Christmas or not. But, I would argue that there are two primary reasons why we should celebrate Christmas. Firstly, we should celebrate Christmas because “for to us a child is born” (Isa. 9:6) and secondly, not all celebrations are sinful and evil.
Let me elaborate. It is the doctrine of the incarnation that gives the impetus to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We only begin to see the wonder and the beauty of God becoming a man when we only begin to understand how Jesus Christ is untarnished, unstoppable, unsearchable, unapproachable, unchangeable, unfathomable and unlimited. According to the mystery of divine will and decree, God sends his Son, the Son of God who is inextricably and inexplicably united with the Father and the Holy Spirit, to be born as a man to redeem humanity (Eph. 1:5, Jn. 1:1; 3:16; 14:16-17). The One who had no beginning had a beginning in the womb of a virgin, Mary (Rev. 22:13, Matt. 1:18). The One who is infinite became a tiny speck (Rev. 1:8, Matt. 1:18). The One who created the universe took on human nature (Col. 1:16, Jn. 1:14). The One who had no physical body became flesh and blood (Jn. 4:4, Heb. 2:14). The One who was mighty became weak (Mk. 4:35-41, Jn. 18:20-22). The One who was all-sufficient began to be in want (Heb. 1:1-2, Jn. 4:7). The One who was the source of all the joy experienced sadness (Phil. 4:4-7, Jn. 11:35). The One who knew nothing about the pain experienced infinite agony (Phil. 2:6, Matt. 27:46). The One who was, is and ever will be (the eternal I Am) experienced death (Jn. 8: 23; 19:30). And, he was resurrected (Mk. 16:9). Christ became God-man so that he would be the perfect substitute to save those who would trust in him from God’s eternal wrath (Rom. 5:19). If Christ had not come, then there would have been absolutely no reason for Christians to celebrate.
Yes, no one can know for sure whether Jesus Christ was born on the 25th of December. However, the point is not when he was born, but whether he was born at all. And, because he was born to redeem those who would trust in Him, it is a good reason to celebrate. Those who would argue that our ‘joy’ in Jesus Christ should not just be restricted to one day ignore the fact that ‘December 25th’ is just one day! In other words, when we are supposed to be joyful all the time (Phil 4: 4), how can we not be joyful on December the 25th?
As stated earlier, not every celebration is sinful and evil. The litmus test for our celebration is to examine or call into question our motives for celebration, not the external customs and traditions (Matt. 15:19). If the incarnation of Jesus is the source of one’s Christmas celebration and when someone can clearly see the joy of his own salvation in the Son of God becoming the Son of Man, there isn’t any plausible explanation why one should not celebrate Christmas (Lk. 1:46-56). If what we do or don’t want to do is not directly antithetical to the Scriptures (His revealed will) and what we do is praiseworthy, none of us has the authority to lay an extra burden on others (1 Cor. 8:4-6). The abuses in the church do not abolish the church itself. Similarly, abuses of celebrating Christmas do not rule out the real joy in God becoming a man. May God fill our hearts with joy, peace and hope as we think about Jesus Christ; the eternal God who became a bondservant to save those who are enslaved to sin and Satan! I wish you all a Merry Christmas, friends!
Samuel Boppuri serves as a Pastor at Reformed Baptist Church in Vinukonda, Andhra Pradesh. He is married to Vijaya and has two children.