The assessment of many Christians today is that, in the west at least, we live in a post-Christian society. Many people in the world think that they know what Christianity is, what Christians believe and who Jesus is. However, the minute you actually start sharing the gospel you’ll realise that people don’t really know all they think they do.
Part of the problem I think is the way that Christians come across, the things we speak out against and the things we stay silent on. But another reason is that, in my opinion, we’re robbing the world of Christ at Christmas.
During this time of year carols are being sung, children are expecting gifts and parents are stressing about logistics of Christmas lunch. But another thing that is still quite common, at least in the UK, is for people to go to church on Christmas Day. This is probably one of the two times someone might go to church in a whole year, the other is Easter.
What do they find when they walk into a church on Christmas? Often they find the stories that they can read in children’s books; a stable, shepherds, Mary and Joseph, a few wise men and a cute little baby Jesus. They’ll hear carols, readings, a big emphasis on children and normally a much shorter sermon.
So what’s the problem?
I think that we are in danger of taking Christ out of Christmas!
How do we expect people to have even the slightest understanding of Jesus if all they ever hear about is a cute baby in a manger? How do we expect people to think seriously about Christianity if the focus is on entertaining them?
If you’re in church leadership your head is probably already in ‘Christmas mode’. You’re planning, thinking and organising a few services that are very evangelistically driven. That’s great! But don’t just preach cute baby Jesus. Preach the magnificence of the Almighty God veiled in flesh. Preach the wonders of the incarnation and crucifixion. Preach the hope of the light of the world that shines in the darkness. Preach about a broken humanity deserving of judgment, yet who can and have received grace!
Singing carols, involving the kids and making people feel welcomed is important. But even more important is that they hear the gospel, not a cuddly and comfortable message that simply says ‘Jesus loves you, see you next year’. We need to tell the world what they really need to hear; that if they do not repent and believe the gospel then their future is not a ‘good place’ but it is hell.
I can already hear the objections ‘you can’t preach hell at Christmas, you must preach love’ I get it, I really do. In our attempt to be welcoming and put on good services for people are we in danger of taking Christ out of Christmas?
Jesus is the saviour of the world, but what is He saving people from? Jesus is the light of the world, but where and what is the darkness? Jesus isn’t a cute baby but he is God in the flesh, so why do we present such a tame version of Jesus?
We should be blowing people’s minds and helping them see that there is no greater truth in the world than that God became flesh. We should be helping people see their need for Jesus and forgiveness. We should be helping them see that we are currently eagerly awaiting his return. But we also need to warn people that the day is coming when they will stand before God and be judged.
Presenting a tame Jesus at Christmas gives people the wrong idea about Jesus, Christianity and their eternal state before a holy God. Taking Christ out of Christmas is easier than you can imagine. Therefore, stick with the whole truth and you’ll be faithful. Take people’s eyes off their own ideas of how Christmas should be celebrated and point them to the place they need to go; the good of the cross where Jesus completed his work. Give people the whole of Christ this Christmas and pray that they would see him as Lord and Saviour, not just another baby.