"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15
What if…there were no gifts given at Christmas?
What do you think Christmas would look like if gifts weren’t given? What if we celebrated Christ’s birthday, simply as a religious holiday. A day which Christian’s celebrated the birth of Christ in prayer and praise. Think about this for just a second. What would Christmas look like then?
I started asking myself this question while I was thinking about why an atheist/agnostic would choose to celebrate the birth of someone they consider to be at best a historical man whose legend has grown out of proportions and at worst a fictitious character maliciously created by the religious establishment to control the masses. After all, some don’t believe in the divinity of Christ. Some, don’t believe he existed at all. Some believe that he was a “good person”. Why do they celebrate it? In all reality they could be celebrating the birthday of Dorian Gray, or Captain Ahab or any other literature character from any story as far as they’re concerned. According to their beliefs there is no difference between John Galt leading a movement and the Passion of the Christ. Both are fictional literature that may have some good moral stories.
Now, don’t get me wrong… I am not advocating that Christmas should only be celebrated by Christians. Nor am I advocating that Christians should exclude Atheists from our celebration. But I have to come back to the question: Why celebrate it? To speculate, they celebrate it because it is an opportunity to see family and/or to be with friends. They also celebrate it because of the material goodies that are associated with Christmas. To be sure the gifts are probably the primary reason that many now have come to celebrate Christmas. The reason I can make this argument is simple: there has been a recent and systematic removal of Christ from Christmas. Everything is now holiday this or holiday that. The Christ from Christmas has been replaced with the good of goodies.
To be completely honest this isn’t just an atheist or agnostic issue, but also a Christian issue. Many Christians get so wrapped up in the material possessions that come with Christmas that they forget what Christmas is really about. I understand how cliché that statement is, but think about it this way. When was the last Christmas party that you went to where you stood up and offered praise to God, and offered a prayer of thankfulness that God sent his child down to die for you? Any takers? I can’t remember just for myself.
This brings me back to my original question…. what would Christmas look like without gifts? One could speculate that it would look a lot different. I think that it would probably have more of a true spiritual meaning for Christians, atheists, and agnostics alike.
So this year for Christmas, rather than focusing on the materialistic things, focus on the Son. Before you open gifts or eat that big dinner, offer a prayer (OUT LOUD) and praise God’s glory and grace for all to hear. Maybe you could read Luke 2 or Matthew 2 before opening gifts (something that KB does). Who knows… God may work in some of those atheist/agnostic friends and families of yours.
Just a thought.