If you really loved someone, would you celebrate the person with reminders of a past rival for your affection? Are many Christians guilty of dishonoring Jesus in this way?
Imagine a woman giving a gift to her husband on his birthday. Only it isn't his birthday. It's the birthday of an old boyfriend. And the gift is something she used to give that other person. It would be natural for the husband to doubt the genuineness of her love!
If someone really loved you and was trying to do something you would appreciate, it seems like he or she wouldn't throw in your face such reminders of an old flame!
But Christmas is doing this very thing with Jesus—supposedly honoring Him when this birthday and celebratory elements were formerly used to honor false gods!
Why do you observe Christmas?
If you're like most people you'd say that you observe Christmas because it's a way of showing love to Jesus Christ. Maybe you attend midnight mass or a church service on Christmas morning. Your children might participate in a play pretending to be Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem. Perhaps a Nativity scene or a giant plastic Santa Claus adorns your front yard.
To many, Christmas is a time of friends and family, the smell of freshly baked cookies and the excitement of children around a decorated tree, tearing the wrappings from gifts.
But is there more to the story? Let's look at another side of Christmas from the website Witchology.com, which bills itself as "a research and education provider specialising in the areas of Witchcraft, Wicca, Paganism, Magic (Magick) and the Occult." It says this regarding Christmas:
"What is the Pagan secret that Christianity has tried to keep from you? The truth about Christmas is that it is not Christmas at all. It is the Winter Solstice, a Pagan holy day observed around the world and since time immemorial from the Native American tribes, to the Norsemen, to the ancient Romans, and today by modern Pagans, Witches and Wiccans."
The startling fact is that the information about the origins of Christmas on this witchcraft-promoting website is actually true! Christmas customs are rooted in paganism. Jesus Christ wasn't even born anywhere near December 25.
Yet most people respond to this information with something like: "I know there are some pagan and secular customs incorporated into Christmas, but these customs were Christianized. In this way we choose to show love toward Jesus."
But it's time to ask the really hard question that few want to face. Could observing Christmas actually be dishonoring Jesus?
A warning to the Christians in Corinth
Let's go back in time to the first Christians who lived in the ancient city of Corinth. Like most ancient seaports, Corinth was known for its multiculturalism, lucrative business opportunities, religious diversity and seamy pleasures. The city's name spawned a Greek verb meaning "to practice fornication." Corinth was an economic powerhouse of around half-a-million people, a mega-metropolis by the standards of the day.
The majority of people in Corinth were pagans. They worshipped the traditional Greek and Roman gods and goddesses or sacrificed in the temples of one of the various "mystery religions." One of the most magnificent Corinthian temples stood on a high hill looming above the city. It was the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, employing 1,000 temple prostitutes.
As people from this pagan-Greek background converted to Christianity, some naturally continued to practice some of their old customs. It would have been easy for them to see these pagan rites as celebrations imbued with a new Christian spirit honoring Jesus.
The apostle Paul wrote to these early Christian in 1 Corinthians:10:20-21: "The things which the Gentiles [pagan nations] sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons."
Think about what Paul is saying. You want to be a follower of Jesus Christ. You believe in the Bible as the inspired Word of God. Are you willing to go where the Bible takes you?
Satan and his demons are not fairy-tale creatures. They are real. Demons are angels who rebelled against God and, after their rebellion, now embody all that is evil. In another letter Paul wrote that Satan is "the god of this age" (2 Corinthians:4:4). We can't escape Paul's logic. Paganism isn't harmless— it is the worship of demons and the false god of this age!
Christmas origins have nothing to do with Christ
Let's read a little more from Witchology.com about the origins of Christmas:
"One of the eight Sabbats [pagan festivals] of Witchcraft, this season, known as Yule, the great annual festival of Saturn, the Saturnalia, of Pagan Rome, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti [Day of the Birth of the Unconquered Sun] of the Mithras cult, the Winter Solstice is a sacred time in the Pagan calendar (emphasis added throughout).
"What is the Christmas secret? What are the facts Christians would rather you did not know? We set our clocks by it, we celebrated a Millennium because of it, but the shocking truth is it did not happen. The birth of a boy under remarkable circumstances to humble parents in a stable in Bethlehem did not happen on the 25th of December, 1 A.D."
Again, the website is correct. The truth is that the prophesied Messiah Jesus Christ was born of a virgin named Mary just as the Old Testament prophets foretold, but again it was nowhere near December 25—which even at that time was a major pagan celebration in several ancient cultures.
The problem with the modern Christmas celebration is that its origins have little to do with the real Jesus Christ. This isn't hidden knowledge. With just a little research online or in a decent encyclopedia, anyone can learn that the Yule log, mistletoe, the Christmas tree and even the date of Christmas are rooted in paganism and not the Bible.
Is your response to this information, "It doesn't matter since I don't use the Christmas tree to worship Scandinavian gods but to show love to Jesus Christ"?
Let's go back to what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10: "The things which the Gentiles [pagan nations] sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons."
We are forced by the Scripture to ask a hard question: How much are you willing to drink the cup of the Lord's table and the cup of the table of demons and conclude that it doesn't matter to Christ?
At the beginning of this article I talked about a woman repackaging a celebration of an old boyfriend's birthday and presenting this to her husband as his birthday party on the same date—even though it isn't his birthday. Pretending it's someone's birthday and giving him a party that recalls a wrong past relationship isn't exhibiting love or respect, is it?
Then why do you believe that you are showing Jesus love and respect when you do the same thing to Him by throwing a party originating in paganism and pretending it's His birthday?
We must worship in spirit and truth
The Gospel of Luke records a conversation between Jesus and a Samaritan woman. The Samaritans were an interesting people. They claimed to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob but rejected many of the teachings of the Old Testament. They refused to worship at the temple in Jerusalem and mixed pagan customs with the worship of the true God.
When Christ's disciples later came to Samaria to preach the gospel, as recorded in Acts 8, they found a man named Simon. This Simon was a sorcerer who claimed to worship God by using the rites and customs of worshipping demons.
As Jesus confronted the Samaritan woman with the reality of who He is, He told her, "The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him" (John:4:23).
Again, Jesus Himself said that "the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth." Let that sink in.
Part of the truth here is that Scripture says we are not to try to honor God the way people formerly honored false gods (Deuteronomy:12:29-32). That is unacceptable to Him.
Isn't it time for you to question the legitimacy of paganized Christianity? Isn't it time to stop wrapping Jesus up in the trappings of the ancient pagan Saturnalia, Mithras and the gods of ancient Scandinavia and instead to seek to worship Him and the Father in spirit and truth?
It's never easy to examine beliefs and practices that you've accepted all of your life. But we have to ask if God wants something different in your relationship with Him.
God is reaching out to you to worship Him in spirit and truth. Let's strip the pagan customs from our worship of the great God and His Son Jesus Christ and honor Them the way They direct in the Bible!
[Read the article: Lessons No One Taught Me as a Youth About the Bible ]