Christmas as a Religious Observance

Something that disturbs me about the church today is the great variance of opinion that brethren have on certain holidays, particularly Christmas and Easter. One brother finds these holidays unscriptural when paired with the commemoration of Jesus, while another views them as a good thing especially when men associate these holidays with Jesus. There are many other views between these two but what we are left with are brethren in disagreement and churches that do not have a firm stance on truth and therefore leave their members and the world confused. These two viewpoints could not be further away from each other, and it is ultimately a strain on the unity of the church.

“Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (1 Corinthians 1:10).

What we just read is the desire of the Spirit of God for brethren to all speak the same thing, one in mind and one in decision. Now, we are not talking about being of one mind over whether we prefer chicken or fish, or one sports team over another; for these things have no bearing on the church or our life of faith in Christ. However, things that are associated with Jesus no longer come down to matters of opinion, such things are matters of truth. The scriptures are filled with admonishments concerning doing all things in the name of the Lord, i.e. the authority of Christ: “whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:16). This would certainly include any holidays and festivals that we would participate in to glorify Christ and commemorate an aspect of his life, whether it be his birth, death, resurrection, etc. One thing that is readily apparent from reading the old and new testaments is that it is God who appoints holy days and feast days. It is not left to man’s authority to appoint such days to glorify God, rather it is under God’s authority for us to be told how he is to be honored and glorified. Unfortunately, many religious people have not considered this and have gone in the way of King Saul, honoring God outside of the written authority of God (1 Samuel 15:13), all the while joyously calling their actions a “good thing”, a “good work”, or even going so far as King Saul saying, “I have performed the commandment of the LORD”, when he did no such thing.

Of course, the children of God have been known in the past to call an evil thing good; likewise they have also called the good things in God’s word an evil thing to do (Isaiah 5:20). So we know that this can happen, and we must fight against it. What makes something either good or evil? It is by the standard of God’s word that man understands what is good for man to do. This is important because we were created for good works (Ephesians 2:10), but not works that man selects to be called “good”, but the works that God had prepared beforehand for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). I imagine that the end result would not be pleasant for anyone who puts aside what God prepared for us do in order to do their own works while saying they are doing the work of God.

God has promised us that the scriptures will make us “thoroughly equipped for every good work”. So then, considering these truths, we must conclude that making manmade holidays like Christmas and Easter into holy days to honor the Lord would be adding to the word of God (Deuteronomy 4:1-4, Proverbs 30:6, Galatians 1:6-10, Revelation 22:18).

Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23).

How sad. Jesus said that there will be “many” who will do “many mighty works” for Jesus, but Jesus will say to them “depart from me, you workers of lawlessness”. Lawlessness is the state of being without law, that is, these who are condemned by the Lord have works that they do for the Lord outside of the law (the written word of God). Many works today fall under this example, and Christmas (when honored as a religious holiday) is certainly a textbook case.

Jesus also spoke out against men trying to honor him with manmade traditions and not by what they find in the word of God: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” (Mark 7:6-8).

Christmas is not in God’s word, it is not a holy day unto the Lord, and it does not honor and glorify Christ. Christ has told us precisely how to honor him: “the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

Man should know of no other way to honor Christ than to do the things he has said: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46). In the Lord’s Supper, we honor our Lord and remember his death. If Christ wanted a birthday celebration, He would’ve told his people what he desired out of us, but he gave no such word, nor do the scriptures provide a date for the birth of Christ. Christmas is simply not the Lord’s will. Are we people who do the will of the Lord, or the will of man? In the next article, Lord willing, I plan to dive into the specifics of the Christmas holiday to see exactly why a Christian cannot observe it in any religious way, as well, we will also see in what way a Christian today can celebrate Christmas.

Article by Tanner Campbell.