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A Christmas Trio

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The birth of Christ is one of the most important events in human history. So important in fact, that the timeline of history is divided by it - B.C. abbreviated for “Before Christ” and A.D. abbreviated for the two Latin words Anno Domini (meaning in the year of our Lord). This was no ordinary birth and it changed human history forever. Even a complete skeptic like H.G. Wells, a professional historian and science fiction writer who made no profession of Christianity, admitted in his Outline of History, “More than 1900 years later, a historian like myself, who doesn’t even call himself a Christian, finds the picture [of history] centering irresistibly around the life and character of this most significant man.…”

Christmas is the holiday which celebrates the birth of “this most significant man.” It is a holiday which is viewed and celebrated differently by different people and generally can be categorized three different ways. As you read through the following 3 descriptions of Christmas, ask yourself this question: “What Christmas am I celebrating?”

The Secular Christmas

This Christmas is one in which no religious convictions are involved. Even the atheist participates in this one. The birth of Christ carries no relevance and the main concerns are gifts, parties, and family gatherings. Perhaps some may even participate in charitable functions. The blessings and enjoyments of this Christmas are limited and temporary - here today, gone tomorrow. Its’ primary value is one of material gain and material giving so there can be no eternal value in this kind of Christmas. The glitter, tinsel, holiday parties, and the hustle and bustle of shopping are the focus. Then after the holiday, the gifts and parties are quickly forgotten. It is a worldly Christmas, pushing Jesus completely off to the side, not recognizing the paramount importance of His birth. The irony of this Christmas is that people are participating in a holiday that came about as a result of the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ; however, they don’t recognize Him as such, don’t pay attention to Him, yet will still participate in His birthday. It is made a common thing and that is a sad thing. Is this the Christmas you are celebrating?

The Religious Christmas

This is basically the same as the secular Christmas but with an added religious twist. This is the Christmas in which those who have no need of God or church during the year, decide to “play church” for one day and attend a Christmas service. In doing so, they deceive themselves into thinking they are doing something good. It also includes the faithful Sunday churchgoer who goes every weekend. What is the common bond between the two? Neither have a true relationship with Jesus. One practices religion 1 week out of the year while the other practices it 52 weeks out of the year. Notice I said, “practices religion”. Church attendance is no indicator that you truly have a personal relationship with Jesus. And just like every Sunday, the Christmas Day sermon is heard and then left inside the four walls of the church. The doors are opened and thoughts have quickly reverted back to presents, parties, and dinner. In other words, back to everything other than Jesus, just like every other Sunday. For those people, Christmas never penetrates the heart and so never gets past being a religiously institutionalized message. Is this the Christmas you are celebrating?

The True Christmas

The birth of Christ can be read in the gospels of Matthew (1:18-2:11) and Luke (1:26-56, 67-75, 2:4-40). I highly encourage you to read them and dwell on what took place in history some 2000 years ago. Remember, this is history! It is not a nice religious “story” read in churches around Christmas time. These are real events taking place at a real time with real people which makes it real history. This being the case, the following points must seriously be considered by all people everywhere.

The Necessity of Jesus’ Birth - Because sin entered the world, Christ had to enter the world. When Adam sinned in the garden of Eden he changed from a perfect man to a sinful man and passed that sin nature down to all of us. We now live out that sin nature in this world bringing with it not only misery and suffering but also God’s judgment. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation....” (Romans 5:12, 18) This is why Christ had to come - to save us from the penalty due us because of our sins. That penalty is eternal condemnation to the lake of fire. God says, “Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of My book. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Exodus 32:33, Revelation 20:15) This Christmas, praise God it doesn’t have to be this way for you if you make a choice to receive Christ as your Savior. For He came into this world to save fallen humanity. He came into this world to save YOU! “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…” (1 Timothy 1:15) And then in another place it is written, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

Without the birth of Christ we have no Savior and without a Savior there is no hope for forgiveness of sins. Without forgiveness of sins there is no reconciliation with God. Without reconciliation with God we are most miserable because a most miserable destiny awaits us. But with the birth of Christ into this world there is a blessed hope for everyone.

Blessings of Jesus’ Birth - The Christmas gift God gave to the world didn’t come wrapped in a box with a bow attached to it. It came as “the babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." (Luke 2:12) After which “the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon Him.” (Luke 2:40) And through the years, He never sinned once, but was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens. Who did no sin.…” (Hebrews 7:26, 1 Peter 2:22) It was because Christ was sinless that He could die for sinful people. Our sins were transferred onto Him and He took our place on the cross of Calvary. “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes [wounds] ye were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24) It was because Christ was sinless that our sins could be transferred onto Him. Here we have the sinless and perfect Son of God, willingly take our sins upon Himself, dying in our place so we could be healed of sin’s curse which is an eternity in the lake of fire. What a glorious blessing of mercy and love! Let it be clear to all - the birth of Christ into this world was for the purpose of reconciliation. He came to repair the rift between us and God caused by our sins. “For if, when we were enemies [of God], we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Romans 5:10) Christmas isn’t about “baby Jesus”. The true Christmas is about why God sent “baby Jesus” into the world and what He grew up to do: die on the cross of Calvary and then rise from the dead making the good news of forgiveness and eternal life in heaven possible. Without this, “baby Jesus” is just another baby. Too many people have separated these 2 major events (his birth and death) so the significance of His birth is lost. Christ was born to die so that when we die we can live with Him.

Our life here on this earth is short and it is easy to get caught up in the cares of this world, especially during the busy Christmas season. Yet we must all remember that every material gift received at Christmas cannot be taken with us beyond the grave. There is only one gift that you can receive this Christmas which will last for all eternity: “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) How do you receive this gift? You must receive Jesus. “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” (John 1:12) Confess you are a sinner and ask God for His forgiveness. Then make a decision to turn from your sins and ask Jesus into your life as your Lord and Savior.

If you haven’t done so, let God give you the greatest Christmas gift ever. Then walk with Jesus and live for Him. Rejoice and always be thankful, constantly reminding yourself of why Jesus came into the world. Do this and you’ll be keeping the true Christmas spirit in your heart year round. May the love of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all this Christmas season and forever. And never forget who “baby Jesus” is….

Infant holy, Infant lowly. For His bed a cattle stall;
Oxen bowing, little knowing Christ, the Babe, is Lord of all.
Swift are winging angels singing, Noels ringing, tidings bringing; Christ the Babe is Lord of all!
Christ the Babe, is Lord of all!

(Infant Holy, Infant Lowly - A Polish carol)