For years now I've fancied myself a bit of a Christmas Grinch. And why is that? Well, I've got to admit that the Grinch is kind of my hero. He was the sole individual who stood apart from the crowd of brainwashees and questioned why everybody should be so irrationally joyous over a holiday with little to no meaning (by all accounts Christ never existed in Whoville). Furthermore he inadvertently discovered a deeper meaning to Christmas than materialism. Take away the Christmas knick knacks and what's left? Someone needed to give some perspective to the Whos!
He was the villain because he was sapped of joy but the type of joy he was sapped of was the trivial fluff of be happy for the sheer fun of it. As a Christian we have one of those few joys on earth that actually has some substance to it but having disconnected festive joy because you enjoy the 'spirit of the holiday' (whatever that means) should not be mistaken as being one in the same. And if you're happy because it's the 'season of giving' then maybe you should be giving for the rest of the year as well and prolong that happiness a little longer than a two week break.
What is the value of 'X' in X-mas?
So what is Christmas at a glance, to someone who has never celebrated it before? I have several friends from China who are new to the whole Christmas celebration and work out what Christmas is all about just from the cultural messages flying about. Like according to some advertising flyers: 'Christmas is the time of indulgence'. Really? Is it? Don't we already gorge and indulge ourselves at other times during the year too? Where is the Christ in all this?
It wouldn't be called 'Christmas' without Christ but that fact has largely escaped the awareness of the population of Australia and other Western nations. Kids know who Santa is long before they know who Jesus is. Adults want all the festivities with none of the Christianity.
This I know well. I come from a family of atheists (or admitted agnostics on their more liberal days) and they celebrate Christmas like there are awards ceremonies for it. Not believing in Christ just means that they attach some lesser significance to the holiday like 'family togetherness' and that seems to fool them just fine to get through the (otherwise meaningless) holiday season.
Even though I don't really think we should be wetting ourselves over giving gifts to overindulged people that they certainly don't need, there is one plus to Christmas: Evangelism. This is the one time of year that you can speak about Christ and not be booed and hissed at. You can say things like: "this holiday is special to me because Christ was born and He's the redeemer of the whole world" or "may I present to you the true meaning of Christmas?" freely and by all means you should.
Don't be a Grinch (like I am) this Christmas. Give generously – the Bible says to make friends with unrighteous mammon (money) but don't give mere house clutter. Enjoy yourself and make other people happy but don't forget Christ in the hype of it all.
If He's not the centre, Christmas means nothing and you're just like those fools down in Whoville celebrating for the sake of celebrating. Do these things and who knows? Maybe you'll even help to melt this Grinchy heart of mine.
Bridget Brenton has spent seven years in China and currently lives on the Gold Coast with her husband Steven. Over the last decade she has been studying all things philosophy, apologetics and the supernatural and now is endeavoring to put that knowledge into ministry. She writes a blog on the paranormal and it's relation to practical Christianity.