What Will They Get This Christmas?

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MP3 Audio (12.81 MB)


What Will They Get This Christmas?

MP3 Audio (12.81 MB)

Despite the Christmas holiday being touted as “the most wonderful time of the year” for children and families, the sad fact is that it brings serious problems to both.

Young people are taught to focus more on what they will get for Christmas than the real meaning of the coming of Jesus Christ. And among people of all ages, terrible falsehoods about the celebration abound, along with wrong objectives and pursuits.

Pressuring into debt

There was the story of three children in a family who all wanted their own gaming notebook computers—expensive ones to play on and proudly show their friends. Right after Halloween, they began working on their parents to make it happen. By starting in early November, they felt they could get what they wanted by Dec. 25.

Sadly, this had been a difficult year for the parents. The father had gone through a period of unemployment due to mandatory layoffs, and the highly educated mother was underemployed, finding no work in her field of expertise. The parents simply could not afford all three notebooks at one time. So they decided to buy one a year, starting with their oldest child.

But the children persisted. After all, it was argued, all their friends had gaming computers. They whined, complained, begged and badgered their parents until the parents simply gave in. They went into debt, paying with their credit card. Surely, they hoped, this would give their children a merry Christmas.

Several months later, the parents were still paying down Christmas bills—at over 17 percent interest.

This all-too-common story illustrates one of the pitfalls of Christmas observance. The “spirit of the season” can entice young people into whining and complaining until they get what they want. Parents are pressured to give in and buy gifts the family really can’t afford. In fact, some will still be paying off credit card debt for nearly a whole year—until the Christmas season rolls around again! And, we should ask, is lasting character really developed when children know they can pout and prod and manipulate until they get what they want? Mature adults know this is not the path to real, lasting success.

Is this what Jesus wants? Like many, you probably sense that something is very wrong with this picture. Our Savior came to give to mankind. So why should Christmas be used to teach the way of get? Think also about how many conversations with friends at the end of December start with the question: “So, what did you get for Christmas?”

How sad it is that the day claimed to be for the worship of Jesus Christ actually focuses our children on self—effectively emphasizing that it is permissible to be greedy.

Lying as part of the enchantment

A second pitfall of Christmas is the intentional lying to children about Santa Claus and surrounding mythology to make the holiday exciting and magical for them. The involvement of strong authority figures in this deception (including parents, grandparents, teachers, pastors and public officials), along with businesses and the media, ultimately sends the message to children that in certain situations it is permissible if not even commendable to lie. And it may well factor into distrust of parents and other authority figures children develop as they get a little older.

In the late 1800s, a young girl in America by the name of Virginia O’Hanlon asked her father whether or not Santa Claus existed. Her father suggested she write a letter to The Sun, a New York City newspaper. So she wrote:

“Dear Editor, I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, ‘If you see it in the Sun, it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?”

The letter was answered by an editor named Francis Pharcellus Church. His answer became immortalized with the famous line “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” Even 100 years later, this article “is the most reprinted editorial in any newspaper in the English language” (Wikipedia, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”).

In fact, the phrase “‘Yes, Virginia, there is (a) . . .’ has become an idiomatic expression to insist that something is true” (ibid.).

While some praise the editorial for supposed philosophical value, the fact is that this famous article is riddled with lies! Indeed, the entire Christmas holiday is riddled with lies! Yet most of society is happy to join in on the deceptive “fun.”

Even NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, a joint Canadian and American early warning defense organization, gets into the act. For decades, it has pretended to track Santa Claus’ travels across the northern hemisphere. A Reuters article explains how this tradition gained traction:

“The origins of tracking Santa date back to 1955 . . . when a local ad to speak directly with Santa printed the wrong phone number—instead directing children to a military defense operations center. Tracking Santa grew from there after officers on duty actually fielded the kids’ questions . . .

“For more than 50 years NORAD has followed the flight path of jolly old Saint Nick, but these days technology helps children and families pinpoint Santa’s more exact route to their own homes . . . Kids can download mobile device apps to watch Santa and the reindeer traverse the globe. Otherwise, they can call or email the command center for Santa’s coordinates” (Lauren Keiper, “NORAD’s Santa Tracking Set to Launch on Christmas Eve,” Dec. 23, 2011).

Perpetuating this huge lie is seen as a wonderful gift to children, while exposing it is regarded as ruining the fun and practically evil and perverse. Is the promotion of this lie godly in any way? Titus 1:2 shows that God “cannot lie.”

And God warns us of reveling in lies and demanding lies of others. He states in Isaiah 30:8-10: “Now go and write down these words. Write them in a book. They will stand until the end of time as a witness that these people are stubborn rebels who refuse to pay attention to the Lord’s instructions. They tell the seers, ‘Stop seeing visions!’ They tell the prophets, ‘Don’t tell us what is right. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies’” (New Living Translation, emphasis added throughout).

As part of the true worship of Jesus, parents should be teaching their children what the Scriptures really say regarding the true story of the birth of Jesus—and the truth about the Christmas holiday. Here is some of what they would find.

Jesus was not born in the dead of winter

Various factors make it clear that Jesus’ birth was not at Christmastime. One is the census taken throughout the Roman Empire when He was born, as recorded in Luke 2:1-3: “And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.”

Given the incredible efficiency of the Romans, coupled with their mission of obtaining an accurate count, the winter months in Jerusalem would hardly be the appropriate time to conduct a census. Bad weather would cause many to stay home and delay the count. A much more temperate time of the year would be the logical choice for such a census.

Pagan customs, the sun god and Dec. 25

In its entry on “Christmas,” the online Encyclopaedia Britannica has this to say about the holiday’s historical beginnings:

“The precise origin of assigning December 25 as the birth date of Jesus is unclear. The New Testament provides no clues in this regard. December 25 was first identified as the date of Jesus’ birth by Sextus Julius Africanus in 221 and later became the universally accepted date. One widespread explanation of the origin of this date is that December 25 was the Christianizing of the dies solis invicti nati (‘day of the birth of the unconquered sun’), a popular holiday in the Roman Empire that celebrated the winter solstice as a symbol of the resurgence of the sun, the casting away of winter and the heralding of the rebirth of spring and summer.

“Indeed, after December 25 had become widely accepted as the date of Jesus’ birth, Christian writers frequently made the connection between the rebirth of the sun and the birth of the Son. One of the difficulties with this view is that it suggests a nonchalant willingness on the part of the Christian church to appropriate a pagan festival when the early church was so intent on distinguishing itself categorically from pagan beliefs and practices.”

Yet the institution widely regarded as God’s Church at this later time had in fact drifted far from the early Church in both beliefs and practice.

We read this solemn warning in Jeremiah 5:30-31: “An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power [instead of God’s Holy Spirit]; and My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?” The New Living Translation renders the concluding question here as: “But what will you do when the end comes?”

Yes, people will have to give an answer to the only One who counts as to why they participated in the spreading of lies about what amounts to a false savior. If we were really interested in the proper worship of God and His Son Jesus, we would learn to worship “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24)—certainly not with the promotion of lies and pagan traditions.

Christmas gift-giving not from the wise men

The gifts of the magi in the biblical story of events surrounding Jesus’ birth are often claimed as a forerunner of gift-giving at Christmas. But these wise men came a long while after Jesus’ birth—and they gave gifts to Him, not to each other.

Let’s take a brief look at the gifts from the wise men. We read in Matthew 2:11: “They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” These gifts were highly symbolic.

Gold was a gift given to royalty; in this case, it was given to the One who is to reign as “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Revelation 19:16). Gold also symbolizes the perfect, righteous character of our Lord and Savior, who was God in the flesh.

Frankincense was an ingredient in the incense used in the worship of God in the tabernacle and temple by Israel’s high priest (Exodus 30:34-37). It is also symbolic of the intercessory role of Jesus Christ as our High Priest.

Myrrh was a gift symbolizing the suffering, death and burial of Jesus. When He died, His body was wrapped in a 100-pound mixture of myrrh and aloes (John 19:39).

So the gifts given were in fact prophetic of the life, work and death of Jesus. The modern practice of exchanging gifts with friends and relatives has nothing to do with the actual biblical account.

Christmas gift-giving developed from the exchange of gifts in the Roman Saturnalia and other manifestations of the pagan winter festival.

Give the gift of truth

The claim that Jesus was born on Dec. 25 is a lie foisted upon our children along with other Christmas traditions. Whether from a newspaper editor to the respected NORAD, or from scores of other sources, our children are being deceived. History shows that the customs surrounding Christmas have more to do with championing a pagan deity than speaking of the true Christ of the Bible.

Also, allowing children to fixate on getting for themselves and to whine and needle their way to “success” is not teaching them true success at all. It is setting them up for hardship later on.

One point of truth is better than a thousand lies! Christmas observance is not supported in the Bible at all! It is instead condemned there. Parents should turn their children to the Bible because the Bible, God’s Word, is truth (John 17:17).

Learn and live by, and help your children learn and live by, the true gospel message of the Bible, embracing the life, teaching and salvation work of our Lord and Savior! There is no greater gift you can give to your children.