Have you seen the bumper sticker, “Keep Christ in Christmas?” This slogan originated around 1920 among a group of Christians in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who wanted to openly display their faith. They encouraged local businesses not to sell out to the secularization of Christmas, but to display signs that reminded people of Christ and His birth. In 1937 a Christmas card company used the slogan, along with Bible verses, in place of the bland, “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays.”
This movement also encouraged people not to use “Xmas” in place of Christmas. The abbreviation “Xmas” originated in the Fourth century, when Roman Emperor Constantine began to use it. In the Greek language of the New Testament, the word “Christos” (Christ) begins with the letter “X” (chi). During the eleventh century, a scribe saved space by writing “Xmas” in place of “Christmas.”
In our day, using “Xmas,” symbolizes a much larger issue than merely saving writing space. The secularization of our American culture is so pervasive that Christ is actually being left out of Christmas. Recently, pressure has been placed on businesses to use “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” in place of “Merry Christmas” as a salutation. This is not accidental or incidental.
Franklin Graham, originator of Operation Christmas Child, in a 2005 interview with CNN said: “For us as Christians, Christmas is one of the most holy of the holidays, the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. And for people to take Christ out of Christmas is wrong. They are happy to say ‘Merry Xmas,’ as long as Jesus is left out. I think this is actually a war against the name of Jesus Christ.” Then he said, “Secularists…don’t want to get rid of the holidays; they just don’t want Jesus in the holidays.”
In our world today, Christmas means different things to different people. Some celebrate it by exchanging extravagant gifts and throwing elaborate parties. Others use it as an excuse to overeat and indulge their baser desires. Sometimes well-meaning families use Christmas as a reason to go deep into debt. The true meaning of Christmas is often lost in the midst of the food, frolic, tensions and tinsel.
Over sixteen hundred years ago, December 25, A.D. 380, in Constantinople, Gregory Nazianzus preached a sermon about the meaning of Christmas. Among other things he encouraged the people by saying: “Therefore let us keep the Feast (Christmas), not after the manner of a heathen festival, but after a godly sort; not after the way of the world, but in a fashion above the world; not as our own, but as belonging to Him Who is ours….”
Christians should observe Christmas in ways that avoid heathenism, exhibitionism, materialism and the ways of the world. Instead, it should be celebrated in a way that is responsible, family-centered, and godly. Christmas is about honoring our Lord Jesus Christ, Savior, Master and Lord of all.
Fortunately, the Bible reveals the true meaning of Christmas.
Christmas means that…
- JESUS “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:7, 8). Christmas means the incredibly rich Son of God became indescribably poor so that we, helpless and poor, could become unbelievably rich. Paul wrote: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). GRACE is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. For Jesus, Christmas meant the ultimate sacrifice of becoming human, suffering rejection, and dying on a cross.
- WE sinners now have a perfect Savior who offers a complete salvation to everyone who believes in Him. “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). The old prophet Simeon put it best as he beheld the newborn baby Jesus in the Jerusalem Temple. “Then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation” (Luke 2:28-30).
- GOD provided the perfect Mediator between Himself (the perfectly holy God) and us (the perfectly unholy creature) in His Son (the perfectly acceptable sacrifice). Paul put it this way in his letter to the young preacher Timothy, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:5). Jesus died to pay our sin debt, and all we need to do is to accept Him by faith.
This Christmas, let us who know Him, honor him by sincerely worshipping Him; by genuinely showing our thanks to Him; and by sharing the good news of Christ, the Savior, with the lost. The true meaning of Christmas is that God provided a Savior, who died for us, so that we may live forever with Him in Heaven. That is keeping Christ in Christmas!