by Nancy Wilson
It is no wonder that so many Christians have rejected Christmas because of the unabashed worldliness of the world at Christmastime. This worldliness is so bad that it even leaks into Christendom and contaminates the blessed holiday with its nasty, worldly stench. How does this defiling worldliness spill out of the world and slosh into the Christian community? The truth is that Christian people actually gather up buckets of the stuff and hand–carry it in. Then they pitch it out and go back for a refill. What’s more, the people they dump it on sometimes get into the act as well, find themselves a bucket and go out looking for it too. That’s the truth. I’ve seen it.
Here we have a perfectly foul situation. The world is behaving in a predictable manner, according to its nature, that is, worldly. What more could we expect? Unbelievers cannot act any other way. So they have a certain worldly take on everything, including Christmas. They see the world through their own worldly eyes. But when Christians start imitating them and actually start importing the worldliness and spreading it around amongst themselves, it is indeed a sad, sad state. Especially at Christmas.
What is the nature of this Christmastime worldliness? Is it the trees and the lights and the gift-giving and the feasting? Of course not. Rather, it is all forms of complaining, grumbling, moaning, and the nastiest of all, stinginess. Whatever can the people of God be thinking when they load up on this polluted stuff ? Not only does it drive out the joy and thrill of Christmas in their own homes, but it infects and spreads to other unsuspecting households.
It is no surprise that the pagans indulge in so much tedious complaining about Christmas; this is their nature. They love to murmur about the lists, the shopping lines, the endless baking, the decorations….so much labor for one day, and, of course, the commercialism. What else is new? They don’t understand the point of the celebration. How can they? They are blind. They try to keep a pale external show of our day without the joy to feed the labor. So they crank out the Christmas cards, grumbling all the way. And reluctantly buy gifts, complaining of how much they cost, wrapping them in ugly paper and throwing them under their artificial tree. And the feast? A turkey roll, instant mashed potatoes, and some sparkling cider, maybe served up on decorated paper plates.
This is the nature of their evil worldliness. It is neither grateful nor acknowledges God and His Great Gift. “Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Rom. 1:21).
When Christian people start importing this kind of sick worldliness, it is a disgrace. God hates murmuring and complaining always. It is beneath the calling of Christians to indulge in this kind of worldliness, especially at Christmas when we are to be rejoicing in the Messiah. But worldly Christians complain about all the same things the pagans do. They moan over their lists of things to do. They begrudge the decorations and the trees and the feasting and the gift-giving as though they were to called to imitate the pagans. And while they are busy being worldly, they complain about the worldliness and commercialism of Christmas or they reject the celebration entirely. Who is being worldly now? But the Scriptures tell us that we are not to be pressed into the world’s mold. We are to have our minds renewed. We are called away from such worldly thinking and futility.
Christian people are the only people on earth who can truly celebrate Christmas, even though we do so inadequately.
But we can’t help ourselves. We’ve heard the angels singing and the shepherds’ announcement. We’ve visited the manger and heard Mary’s song. So we celebrate by making a great feast. We buy the best wine and cheese that we can afford, and our ovens are bursting with Christmas delights. And the gifts! The stockings are loaded, the closets bulging with gifts stored up for the day they go under the huge, glorious tree. The silver is polished, the linens are pressed, the china is standing by. And the month of Christmas seems too short for all the singing and celebrating we want to do. This is the way it should be for God’s people. Each year should be a better feast than the last, with more of Christmas each year, more food, more presents, more delight. We are growing in our sanctification and learning how to rejoice around our tables with more exuberance, more reverence and fear, more holy awe.
Of course the Christmas season is steeped in commercialism. The world can do nothing else. The world is, afterall, worldly. But that is no reason for us to reject the day. Many marriages end in divorce, but that is no reason for us to reject marriage as worldly. Christmas belongs to us and to our children, so we should act like it is by out-celebrating, outgiving, out-rejoicing the rest of the world. But we cannot even begin to do this if we have become worldly about Christmas ourselves, by complaining and murmuring and moaning about all the shopping and baking we have to do, or about how worldly the world has become. After all, this is why Christ came: to save a sinful world.
As God’s people, let us set apart this annual celebration to the Lord more and more. May we learn to adore the Christ Child; may we imitate Mary’s wonder and abound in awe at the mystery and glory of His coming. And may we do so without a hint of worldliness.