restoring our biblical and constitutional foundations


Christmas: Going On From Here

 David Alan Black 

(Since publishing BeckyLynn’s article “Why We No Longer Celebrate Christmas,” many have written us with clear testimonies that they also have experienced the same conviction and freedom we have experienced. Many others have written that they want to take this year to evaluate and research the Scriptures. Still others have written expressing a conviction about the Scriptural teaching on our cultural celebration of Christmas [Chm] and a desire to also change their lives in this regard. BeckyLynn has written this follow-up.)

A question is being voiced by many, particularly parents of young children: “How do we make this change?” There are few holidays that are as family-centered as Chm. And the common concern is how to deal with family and close friends who do not share this conviction. 

Here are some thoughts on this subject.

  1. Choose Faith: Obey your Lord. Making any change in our lives on the basis of a fresh understanding of Scripture requires faith. I’m reminded of Joshua just before entering the Land. He spoke to the people, saying “You haven’t been this way before. You will be in the midst of unbelieving people. You must choose this day to whom you will commit your devotion and life. As for me and my house, we choose the Lord.”  This is the same scenario for any step of faith. Our Lord is gracious and faithful to us. He is the One who enlightens our understanding, who shows us His way. And He is the One who stands by us at the edge of faith. The Israelites who came to the Land under Moses chose not to prioritize His will.  They chose to live in fear of the presumed dangers, rather than looking to Him and resting in His character. The Wandering was never a part of God’s original plan for the Israelites; it was a judgment for lack of obedience to His revealed will. Like them, you and I will “wander” aimlessly in our spiritual life if we refuse (usually out of fear or laziness) to act on His revealed will. If the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit have led you to delete the Chm trappings from your celebration of the Saviour, then we encourage you to act in obedience, in faith practicing what our Lord has showed you. This takes courage. God’s word to Joshua was, “Be strong. Be courageous. I am with you!” Walking by faith is looking beyond the circumstances, beyond the “what ifs” to the God of the Universe, and entrusting our lives and our families as well as our souls/our eternities to Him.
  1. Choose Priorities: Teach the Children. Part of the human experience is our propensity to get all mixed up in our priorities. If one piece of our life refuses to accommodate another piece of our life, then we have to choose priorities. This is true in all aspects (time management, finances, etc.). For those with dependent children, our responsibility before God for the training and spiritual welfare of these “blessings” trumps our responsibility to our parents and friends. The role of parent is unique. Teaching our children in the Way requires integrity, otherwise it will fail. We cannot say with our mouth one thing, or believe in our hearts one thing, yet live another thing. It does not work. Sooner or later the matter gets flushed out, and the credibility of the parent in the eyes of the child is greatly damaged. If doing the Chm thing is wrong, then it is wrong, and it should be taught and lived as such. So, with the children, talk-talk-talk/teach-teach-teach.  Teach constantly, teach simply, teach in varying “styles.” Teach, teach, teach (Deut 6). Model for them what you are teaching verbally. Share with them, to the extent they are able to bear it, your own struggles in living by faith, your own questions and issues. They need to see Christianity in action. True Christianity is a vibrant, living, dynamic relationship with a Living and Personal God. As such, it has life fluctuations and issues. Do not be afraid to deal honestly with your children about deleting the Chm trappings. Many have written to us about how the Lord prepared the hearts of their children. Remember, the children are His children first, and we can trust Him to guide their spirits just as He guides ours.  Remember in your teaching, that you are teaching more than just the Chm situation; you are also teaching how to respond to peer pressure, how to be gracious yet firm with those who don’t believe as you do, how to give grace on the non-essentials, how to prioritize, etc., etc.  So keep the big picture in view in the teaching
  1. Choose Grace: Give Space to Others. In dealing with those outside your home, particularly family and close friends, here are some thoughts:
    1. Share with Humility. Sit down with those closest to you for the express purpose of sharing with them what you have learned and been convicted about. Humility is a key ingredient. Know your facts, but check your spirit. Express appreciation for them and their positive role in your life. Affirm their love for you and your children and visa versa. You’d be surprised at how many have just never thought about this issue before. They are just bumbling along with the culture like all of us were before our Lord showed us. But when presented in a simple, non-threatening way, they may be open to discovery and change also.
    1. Love …Grace…Kindness…Patience…Meekness…Joy. These are all characteristics of the Spirit in us. And they are people-directed characteristics. If you share your new convictions with your close friends and family, it is highly probable that they will not be ready to join you lock, stock, and barrel. Just as you are discovering, it is a “scary” thing to do something different than those around us. (We’re always blaming the young people for caving into peer pressure, but we adults have the same problem!) There are many emotional issues that have to be dealt with. So when dealing with those who do not yet share our convictions, this is how we should respond: with the fruits of the Spirit. It is the same way that our Lord responds to us when our lives are out of sync with His teaching.
    1. Recognize boundaries. We are not responsible for the choices of other people. We are not responsible for life in their homes. As such, we can join them for Chm dinner in their home, surrounded by their tree and Santa blow-ups, and it’s OK. This is their territory. When Jesus spent time with mankind, did He require us to get our territory cleaned up for Him?  Of course not! He kept His own house in spiritual order before His Father, and He maintained that integrity while rubbing shoulders with people who were not living according to the Scriptures as fully as He was. 
    1. Put things in perspective. Don’t be afraid of your children being at Grandma’s house and receiving gifts from Santa. Just explain, teach-teach-teach, even at Grandma’s house, even publicly if the situation calls for it, the very simple Truth of His person. (For example, if Grandma says to little Johnny, “You believe in Santa, don’t you? Everyone believes in Santa!”, in my opinion it’s appropriate to gently, humbly correct for the sake of the child in front of Grandma: “Grandma, you’re right that many people play the game of believing in Santa, but since Santa is not a real person, only a few little children really believe in him.”) God has put it into the heart of children to give more credit to parents who parent than to any other person on earth. But also remember that the issue of Chm is not the “to die for” issue; only the Gospel has that priority. What did Paul say? “Now abides Faith, Hope, Love…the greatest is Love.” Love says, “I give you the freedom to be where you are at in your spiritual life.” Love says, “For your sake, I will live by truth, even though it subjects me to your ridicule.” Love says, “But for the grace of God, I would be doing the Chm thing as you and everyone else is.”
    1. Time can soothe. If you have practiced humility and grace, love and consistency, then it is highly likely that over the years they will come to a position of respect and admiration, if not like conviction. Change is difficult for all of us, especially with something as traditional as Chm. But with each year that we practice “non-Chm,” a new tradition develops: the tradition of simple worship, daily worship, and Scriptural worship. To ease the transition, you might start in your own home by deleting the tree, lights and Santa the first year, the stockings and gifts the next year, etc., so that the change is more gradual. Be sure to explain clearly, though, why you are deleting; don’t sweep it under the rug. (But you also don’t need to broadcast it as if it were the Gospel and try to make it into a battle zone; just be kindly honest.)

Know that Dave and I appreciate your journey to living the Gospel with integrity. In some ways it is a difficult journey; it takes courage to go God’s way when surrounded by the paganism, materialism, traditionalism, and ridicule of our society and even close friends and family. But let’s follow the example of our Lord Jesus, who for the joy set before Him endured the ridicule, shame, and social pain of the Cross in order to be obedient to His Father. And look where He is now! Seated on high awaiting the placement of all creation at His feet, awaiting the wonderful wedding to His pure bride! Our journey is from faith to faith, ever increasing depths of walking Life with Him, trusting Him, obeying Him and, as a consequence of that faithful obedience, enjoying deeper and deeper fellowship with Him. It is a privilege and honor to be called by Him to the depth of relationship that sets us apart from our society.  Our Lord will give you wisdom and courage, just as He did Joshua, if you are willing to step out and act in faith.

December 8, 2005

David Alan Black is the editor of

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