Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas: Should We or Shouldn't We?

Should Christians celebrate Christmas? That's a question most Christians would find nonsensical, if they thought about it at all. Of course Christians should celebrate Christmas. What would their faith be without the celebration of it's founder's birth?

From a cultural standpoint, I support Christmas. Christmas is the single, most visible evidence of our Judeo-Christian heritage, and there are people in our increasingly secular nation who hate that heritage. They are waging a "war on Christmas" as part of their efforts to eradicate all knowledge of America's Judeo-Christian roots. It is an act of rank anti-Christian bigotry. For that reason I support the celebration of the "mass of Christ" as a declaration of committment to what it is perceived to be evidence of: our Judeo-Christian heritage. That is my view of Christmas from a cultural perspective, but from a spiritual perspective I'm beginning to feel very differently.

I've known for years that Christmas isn't Biblical but originated in pagan religious festivals celebrating the winter soltice and/or the birth of various pagan gods such as Mithras. I've also known for years that in the Bible God tells His people NOT to worship Him the way the heathens worship their gods. I'm increasingly convinced that that's exactly what we're doing when we use pagan festivals to celebrate Christ's birth. And I'm increasingly uncomfortable with that.

I understand that Christmas is deeply engrained in Christian culture and most Christians see nothing wrong with it. They might think I'm being legalistic in questioning the correctness of celebrating Christmas. Some Christians might remind me that, in his epistle to the Galatians, Paul told believers not to let anyone judge them with respect to days they observe. Others might remind me that Christ freed us from the strictures of the Mosaic Law. I get that, but I also know that the Bible in the New Testament says we are to worship God in spirit and in truth. How can we worship the Lord in truth if we're using the festivals, practices, and traditions of false religions?

I'm not telling anyone to stop celebrating Christmas. I don't condemn the overwhelming majority of Christians who observe the holiday. In fact, I still observe Christmas, though not primarily as a religious holiday. Christmas, for me, has become more about gratitude and reflection rather than about celebrating Christ's birth. It's about giving thanks to God for His blessings and for the strength and comfort He bestowed on me to sustain me during my trials. And it's about reflecting on what I did during the year, honestly confronting my sins, and asking God to help me do better in the new year. That's what Christmas is mostly about for me now.

So, should Christians celebrate Christmas? I think the answer to that question should be left to each believer. I don't think congregations should require all their members to believe one way or the other. The question of Christmas is not, I don't think, a salvation issue. Believers with polar opposite views can be equally saved. Therefore, both sides should treat each other with respect. They should not make the other side's opinion into a character flaw. Both sides should strive to be Christlike in this debate. And that's what Christianity is really all about, isn't it? Becoming Christlike, not getting too concerned about which days your neighbors observe. That's the essence of Christianity.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2010

New Template

Well, I finally found a new template for God and Me. Finding just the right templates for my blogs has become something of an obsession for me. I want my humble spots on the 'net to be an expression of me and what I'm trying to say, and finding templates, backgrounds, or skins that do that has been a pain. But then I saw this template on the Final Sense website and the header grabbed my attention. The template is called Lake and Mountain and the first thought that came to my mind when I saw it was that it'd be perfect for God and Me.

At first glance a nature template wouldn't seem like the perfect choice for a Christian blog, but it is. How? The header photo shows a glimpse of the beauty and majesty of God's creation, which reveals the beauty and majesty of God Himself. It reminds me of the teaching in Scripture that God is "seen" through nature and that creation testifies to His existence. This template calls attention to God in a less direct way than a template featuring a cross or a church would, but I think it's more effective for that reason. An unbeliever who stumbled across my blog might pass on by if a church jumped out at him from the computer screen. However, a photo showcasing the beauty of nature might be less threatening to him, and he just might decide to check this blog out. And whatddaya know, a new follower!

I really like my new template. It's going to be good for my blog. God revealed in His creation is the perfect visual theme for God and Me. I'm glad I went back to Final Sense, and I hope everyone enjoys my blog's new look. I certainly do, thank God.