12th December 2010

Christmas Command

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks by night. … Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with an angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.’”
Luke 2:8, 13-14 (NIV UK)

Not long ago someone told me that I had no business celebrating Christmas because, they said, there is no command in the Bible to do so. And if Jesus didn’t command the keeping of Christmas, then it is a sin to do it.

I felt bad for the person, not only because their logic is faulty, but because their faulty logic is keeping them from enjoying one of the most meaningful and joyous celebrations of the year. The person was arguing from the non-existence of evidence, a case of faulty logic. He reasoned that since there is not a specific command to do something, it is wrong to do it. Of course, if such reasoning were to be applied consistently to the way we conduct our worship, we would need to make plenty of changes.

For example, we would need to discontinue the use of projectors, church buildings, musical instruments, hymnals, seating in pews, Sunday school, children’s church, our general worship meeting format and just about everything connected with our worship services. Why? Because none of these is specifically commanded in the Bible. Moreover, we could not have any special services to commemorate other special events—as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, anniversaries, the dedication of a new church building or a memorial for a departed member of the congregation.

The fact that the Bible does not command us to celebrate Christmas is not a valid argument against Christmas celebration.

Regardless of whether or not we choose to celebrate Jesus Christ at Christmas time, one thing most believers agree on is that there is nothing in the world more worthy of celebration than God becoming man with us and for us.

Jesus’ entrance into the world was a cause of great rejoicing and celebration, because in Jesus, God was reconciling the world to himself. At Jesus’ birth people who loved God rejoiced in praise, and even the angels praised God. In Luke 2:10-14, an angel of God described the birth of Jesus as “good tidings of great joy for all the people”. Since it was appropriate for angels to rejoice at the birth of Jesus, it is certainly in keeping with the message of Scripture for Christians to do so too.

Following the apostle Paul’s instruction in Romans 14, it is important that Christians respect one another’s views on this subject and not judge one another. Neither those believers who celebrate the birth of Jesus, nor those who don’t, are more righteous or more evil than the other. Christians are free to decide for themselves about whether and how to celebrate Christmas. We can all learn to say with Paul: “Those who observe the day, observe it in honour of the Lord….”

Holy Father, the birth of your Son, God incarnate, is worthy of worship, praise and glory for all that that means for your human children. It was the single point in all of human history where salvation came to man, and it all began with the birth of a little baby. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by Joseph Tkach

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