If we celebrate Christmas, then how is it that we really don’t believe it all. ♦
Christmas is an odd time. Everybody buys into it (literally). At least the shopping, music, pageantry, beauty, coziness and festiveness of it all. It’s wonderful to engage with family and friends and communicate love and appreciation with gifts, visits and cheer. And everyone lets down a little bit from the busy rat race that is the rest of the year.
It’s Christmastime, the most beautiful time of the year.
So here’s a question: If we celebrate Christmas, then how is it that we really don’t believe it all?
And what I mean by “it” is the whole basis for the celebration: the birth of Jesus, supernaturally born of a virgin, the manifestation of God in human form, purposely to become the savior of the world, ultimately through a sacrificial death for all of humanity, the supernatural resurrection from death, and His ongoing relationship with his Church through His manifestation in Spirit form on this earth today.
Of course, some people buy into only some of the above.
It’s a wonder to me why, because it’s not really an either/or issue. It’s either all in, or all out. There’s no in-between position to take.
3 Categories of Christmas Response
People actually fall into 3 different groups when it comes to their response to the “it” story of Christmas:
- The Blinders – these are ones who acknowledge and celebrate the birth of Jesus like they’d celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birth, only with an extended amount of attention and hoopla. And even a day off of work. The rest of it they leave out, don’t care about or ignore. They just don’t put a lot of thought into it. They’re not evil or the Grinch, they just have blinders on.
- The Deniers – these are people who consciously deny any or all aspects of the “it” story. They may be atheists, but actually few are atheists, really. Most are agnostic and have bought into a position of “you can’t really be sure.” These may go along and celebrate the Christmas season with the best of them, but in their heart of hearts, they think it’s all a nice story not rooted in fact or reality. But they’ll “Happy Holidays” you quite nicely.
- The Believers – these are Christians who do accept and acknowledge the whole package of God’s gift to humanity in the coming of Christ and the redemptive sacrifice on the cross. They may lose sight sometimes of the greater picture of the season, but when they do slow down, they do believe and celebrate the Truth of what transpired at that first Christmas.
Introspection is healthy. Acknowledging one’s personal response to Christmas is critical to an understanding of one’s worldview and where that worldview actually originates or gets feeding.
The Bible presents Jesus as a figure who was born in the region of Judea outside Jerusalem in a town of Bethlehem. He lived for more than 3 decades and was crucified by the Romans in Jerusalem. Here are some key topics around the Christmas story:
- Birth in Bethlehem – This town 6 miles outside of Jerusalem is significant in the tie-in with Old Testament predictions of the birthplace of the Messiah in the homeland of David (see John 7:42 and Micah 5:2). This is documented over centuries of history.
- Born of a Virgin – This one is difficult for many, but if God is the author of creation, then the birth of God in the form of man is a unique occurrence, particularly when constantly presented in the Scriptures (see Matthew 1:22-23, Jeremiah 31: 22). Indeed the need for Christ/God’s injection into human history due to Adam’s original sin and separation dictates the need for the sacrificial “lamb” to be pure and unblemished. He had to be born of a virgin.
- Star of Bethlehem – Another extraordinary event, a supernatural celestial sighting that led the Magi (the “wise men”) to Jesus. Key is to focus on what Scripture says: this star “went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was” (Matthew 2:9). We picture a star in the sky, with common explanations including a supernova, a comet, an alignment of planets. While interesting speculation, this doesn’t fully jive with “went before them” or how it “stood over where the young child was.” It appears from the text that the star led them originally from the east, then reappears to them when they reach Jerusalem. This star may have very well been a supernatural manifestation from God visible only to the magi. Think of the phenomenon of Moses and the burning bush.
- Magi Visitors – It’s commonly depicted that the magi (the Bible never says there were three) arrived at the manger on the night of Christ’s birth. Actually, they found him with his parents in a house. This could have been nearly two years after Christ’s birth (see King Herod’s reaction in Matthew 2:16). History documents that the magi were a priestly caste in ancient Persia. Jews who stayed in Babylon beyond their captivity throughout most of the 5th century BC would have exposed the magi to Jewish astrological beliefs – “A star will rise from Jacob” (Numbers 24:17).
The Bible is full of supernatural phenomena and historic reality. One’s responsibility is to confront it, not retreat or resist it with blinders or denial. From creation and events surrounding Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, the nation of Israel, and birth of the promised “blessing to all the nations” (Genesis 12:3), intersected with known and documented human history even an atheist cannot deny, the Christmas story must be intellectually reconciled. No one should escape the full study and evaluation of profound history, documented evidence, and spiritual faith.
Anything less is questionable.
Are you blinded, in denial, or fully cognizant of Biblical Christmas truth?
I see him, but not in the present time. I perceive him, but far in the distant future. A star will rise from Jacob; a scepter will emerge from Israel. – Numbers 24:17