Today we welcome everyone to the Berean Baptist celebration of Christmas. We sincerely hope you enjoy this Christmas season as you spend it with friends and family. We are especially thankful that you have chosen to spend this part of the season with us as we sing hymns of praise and proclaim the good news of God’s gift to the world.
Although Christians today place much emphasis on Christmas, this was not the case with early Christians. Today a good part of the year is spent in preparation for the Christmas season with many churches beginning their planning in the summer months. However, you will notice that when the disciples began to preach the wonderful salvation we have in Christ there is no mention of His birth. The focus is always the death and resurrection as these are the two key factors in the plan of redemption. Christ had to die to pay the penalty of our sins and He had to arise from the grave to seal the victory over sin and death. The apostles preached this message faithfully after Pentecost without mentioning the birth of Christ. The earliest recording of Christ’s birth was by Matthew which is traditionally placed about A.D. 37 or about 4 to 10 years after Christ’s death depending upon the correct dating chronology. Matthew’s details are a little sketchy as his intent was more to prove the kingship of Christ and His link to Old Testament prophecies rather than to present a Christmas pageant. Mark does not mention the birth of Christ at all and neither does John. Luke gives the most complete account, but he wrote more than 30 years after the death of Jesus. The lack of emphasis on Christmas in early gospel preaching is remarkable when compared to the extreme focus that is put on it today.
Are we to conclude from this that we need not spend time with Christmas? Is it better for us to downplay it and give it little emphasis? I think not because this season affords us a great opportunity to tell the truth of what Jesus came into this world to do. Early Christians did not have a holiday for the celebration of Christ’s birth, and neither was the world caught up in today’s revelry and mockery of Christmas. Since we do have the holiday now and people are at least somewhat aware of the reason we celebrate Christmas, why not use this time to the advantage of the gospel?
While some may think they are pristine in their apostolic practices by refusing to celebrate Christmas, it was the apostle Paul that said, “To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you” (1 Cor. 9:22-23). Paul gladly used whatever methods he could to win people to Christ as long as they did not conflict with scriptural teachings. The facts are that Christ was born; His birth is recorded; it was attended by angels, and celebrated by commoners like shepherds and also by the rich astute wise men called the magi. God expects us to be wise in our methods of gospel presentation. We are unwise not to use the season effectively for the cause of Christ. I must hasten to add, however, we are sinful if we engage in the same types of Christmas practices as the world. The cause of Christ is hurt not helped by Christians that partake in the shamefulness of liquor at office parties and the kind of evil talk and decadence that takes place. This kind of celebration should be Xmas not Christmas.
We sincerely encourage you to remember the chief end for all Christians. Our cause is to magnify and glorify Jesus Christ. Make sure you use Christmas for Christ.
Pastor V. Mark Smith