“Why do you celebrate Christmas?”
“Why do you celebrate Christmas?” A Muslim college student asked me this question while handing out Christmas tracts in a subway station last week.
I was more than happy to explain that we as Christians remember the birth of Jesus, the world’s greatest gift, during the Christmas season. I was then able to explain why Jesus the Son was such a great gift to the world from God the Father.
Do you celebrate Christmas?
Some argue that because of the holiday’s supposed pagan beginnings, we should have nothing to do with it. Others look at the multi-billion dollar industry that has evolved over the last few decades and question the ethics of participation in such extravagance. After all, Jesus was most likely not born in December!
While I understand these legitimate concerns, I appreciate Ray Comfort’s approach to the issue. Quoting him from a recent mass email:
“Some Christians don’t like Christmas. They see Santa Claus as a disguise for Satan’s Claws. Perhaps they are right. However, instead of getting upset by Christmas, we should use it to breach the advances of the enemy.
“At this time of year your unsaved friends and family will accept gifts without question. Strangers will accept a gospel message with a candy cane attached. And you can start a conversation, or a street preaching session, with a cheerful, ‘Merry Christmas!’ What an incredible way to share the real meaning behind the birth of Jesus—He was born to die on the cross for our sin.” 1
If celebrating Christmas means spending $800 on presents and decorations, as the rest of the country averages, 2 I do not plan to join the party. But if it means intentionally sharing the Greatest Gift with others, you can count me in.
Believe in the Great Gift
“If you believe that there is a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell, or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that, well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward…how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? I mean, if I believed beyond a shadow of doubt that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe it, and that truck was bearing down on you, there’s a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that…”
Penn Jillette, atheist; renowned American magician and comedian. 3
Do we believe that Jesus is the only Way to God the Father, is the only Truth that can set us free from the chains of sin, and is the only Source of eternal life (John 4:6)? Then we have a Gift to offer this Christmas season!
Proclaim the Great Gift
You can’t give what you don’t have. We must first experience the transformation of the Gospel in our own lives before we can offer it to others. As Christ’s light shines through us, we hope that others will be attracted.
However, we can’t assume that our transformed lives are enough to convey the Gospel to the lost. In fact, most people will just assume we are good people, unless we verbally proclaim that Jesus is the one who changed our lives.
“Atheists can teach English, dig wells, hand out food to the hungry, and organize savings and micro-loan groups. Sometimes they do it even more skillfully! It is good for us in missions to lovingly do good work, but good work alone will not save people. We must verbalize our faith.”–Allen Roth
If Christmas is all about Jesus, the greatest gift to humanity, then why not share it with others during this season? What better way to share it than to dedicate this time of the year to greater focus on evangelism and personal witnessing? I believe all of us would be surprised at how many times we pass up divine appointments without even noticing.
Listen to Paul’s prayer request to the Ephesian church. Remember, this is Paul, the great evangelist and church planter. “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 4:19, NIV).
If Paul, the great apostle-missionary, needed prayer for boldness in evangelism, then so do we! Let’s pray daily for opportunities to verbalize our faith with those around us. Then, let’s intentionally look for opportunities to interact with and share the Good News with lost people!
If you have friends that are non-believers, Christmas is a great excuse to give them a copy of The Jesus Film, The Gospel of John, The Hope, or The Nativity Story. If they don’t have a Bible, give them one. Invite them to join you in a New Year resolution to read it from cover to cover in 2016!
A Christmas Fast
The Children of Israel regularly observed the discipline of fasting, but it didn’t seem to satisfy the Lord. His servant Isaiah rebuked them for simply implementing the discipline of skipping food without observing the true spirit behind it.
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
Isaiah 58:6-7, NIV
I challenge us to consider taking on a “Christmas fast”—not necessarily eliminating the festivities, but refocusing them. If we say Christ is the center of our Christmas, and I trust we sincerely want that, then let’s do it!
Let’s proclaim The Gift of salvation to the unsaved around us. Let’s tangibly offer The Gift to others, through personal sacrifice of time and resources. Let’s be Jesus’ hands and feet to the spiritually and physically needy in our communities.
“Then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob” (Isaiah 58:14a, NIV).
|Ian Miller lives in Brooklyn, NY and volunteers full-time with a non-profit organization. He is earning his BA in English through College Plus, which he hopes to use to teach ESL, both at home and abroad. He is passionate about urban, cross-cultural church planting, and verbal, personal evangelism.|