“Christians shouldn’t participate in traditional “Christian” holidays because they have pagan roots.” If you’ve been involved in evangelical Christianity for any length of time, it’s likely you’ve come across this teaching, and many of you have chosen to celebrate the Jewish feasts and holidays instead as a result. While I am all for Christians celebrating Jewish holidays, I still have no qualms about celebrating Christmas in spite of its pagan roots. Here’s why:
Many years ago, I read the book “Peace Child“. It’s about a missionary couple who felt a call to reach the cannibalistic tribes of New Guinea with the gospel. The culture of these people was the polar opposite of Christianity. Lying was held up as a virtue and violence was revered. In the book, Don Richardson explains that all religions and value systems have their roots in the true religion practiced by Noah. Satan has never created anything. He only perverts the truth. Therefore, the strategy of these missionaries was to find something within the Sawi culture that pointed to Christ. It is a tried and tested missionary strategy that goes all the way back to Paul when he checks out all the shrines in Athens and then preaches to them based on their shrine to the “Unknown God”. Don and his wife eventually find something in the Sawi culture from which they can explain the love and sacrifice of Jesus. It was the custom of the “Peace Child”. You will have to read the book yourself to find out what it is all about.
I believe that’s what happened when Christians started going north into barbarian territory. There is a story about a man named Boniface who felt called to live among the Druid people of northern Germany. He moved there at the beginning of summer and worked very hard to establish relationships with a certain tribe there, but was having absolutely no luck. Then on the winter solstice, he was out in the woods cutting firewood when he ran across this tribe. They were gathered around a huge old oak tree that they worshiped and were about to sacrifice the chief’s baby boy. Boniface realized what was going on. He ran up, grabbed the baby with one hand and started to chop down the tree with the other hand. The tribespeople were furious, but an invisible force kept them from reaching Boniface and the child. He kept on chopping away until the tree came down with a mighty crash so hard that the trunk split in two, bounced and then came down in the shape of a cross. In the process, a small evergreen popped up out of the snow. He then preached to the tribe. He told them they were worshiping the wrong tree, that they should be worshiping the Tree of Life and used the triangular shape of the evergreen tree to explain the Trinity. The tribe converted to Christianity, the little prince that Boniface saved became one of the strongest chiefs in the territory, and was instrumental in converting many other tribes.
A couple of centuries later, people were seeking ways to honor the LORD Jesus. Back then, only royalty celebrated of birthdays. They had no idea when Jesus had been born, but they wanted to celebrate. They chose the pagan festival of lights to celebrate because Jesus (the LIGHT) had come to bring light to the dark world. It seemed appropriate and it gave them a way to witness to those who still clung to the old ways.
The first Christmas trees were brought inside as a symbol of the Tree of Life. It was decorated with candles to symbolize the light that Jesus brings into our lives. The first decorations were dried fruits to represent the fruits of the Spirit. The giving of gifts began because Jesus said that when we give to one another, we are giving to Him. What they did was redeem the pagan symbols … those things that Satan had twisted and perverted … back to their true roots … the true religion practiced by the father of us all, Noah.
Today, Christmas has been corrupted again, but the story of Jesus is still there in the midst of it. It is a wonderful opportunity to focus on our LORD and spread the good news of His coming. I’m good with that.
God Bless You All!