“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”John 3:16-17
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them light has shone… for unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.”Isaiah 9:1,6
Maybe you have picked up in the news recently about the data from the ‘UK Census 2021’ in relation to religion. The data shows that those who identify as Christian stands at 46.2%, the next, as Muslim at 6.5%, then, as Hindu at 1.7% and other religions at less than one percent each. Its fairly obvious that Christianity is still the largest religion by a huge margin.
Now, if you fudge the figures by including those who declare no religion at 37.2% and add those to the non-Christian religions, you come out at 47.9% (the remaining 5.9% declining to answer). Some have taken this to suggest that Christianity is no longer the dominant religion and are calling for us to cancel Christmas (ironically under the banner of inclusion) so as not to favour it, over other festivals. It seems an irony to me that those who claim to have no religion would pit themselves alongside other religions against Christianity (I would in-fact argue that they were right, in that it is inherent for all humans to buy into a belief system of some sort or another, since our primary need is that of meaning and purpose – it’s not possible to live in a vacuum devoid of religious tendencies).
Mark Dolan of GB News (not a Christian as far as I know or as I understand it), has said: “To cancel Christmas in Britain would be like cancelling Diwali in India, or the Chinese New Year in China,”and added the sentiment that “Christmas has always been a light in a time darkness.” I don’t think he realised how close to the truth he was, although, it is obvious that he is not referring to Jesus as the light, but that Christmas as a festival brings light and joy to the yearly calendar, so to speak – and this despite personal convictions regarding religious belief – and that life in general would be the worse for not having it. Christmas is a wonderful time of the year for most of us, and is a wonderful reminder of God’s coming in Christ – as well as a nice break from normal life and a time to celebrate and enjoy family and friends.
Despite how ludicrous the idea of cancelling Christmas may seem, there are sinister forces at work out there trying to remove every vestige of the very thing that is foundational to the civilisation that we live in (the proverbial sawing off the supporting branch that you are sitting on): that is Christianity through the coming of Christ and the subsequent changes it wrought to the world.
It’s not an exaggeration, and should be self-evident, to state that the coming of Christ has changed the very fabric of the societies where it has had the most influence. Before Christ, there were no such things as human rights: the stronger protecting the weaker; the help of the downtrodden and less fortunate; life was cheap; people were more of a commodity!
Since Christ, we have seen the abolition of slavery, welfare systems in place, hospitals, education for all, laws to protect the vulnerable and governmental systems designed to protect against corruption – due to a general regard for the sanctity of life. None of these things would be possible without the coming of God in the flesh – in Christ – bringing about the great reversal, whereby everything was turned on its head.
Jesus demonstrated this reversal over and over again as He healed the sick, healed the lame and ate with sinners. We have seen the church demonstrate these principles through the ages bringing wholesale change to the world about them. All these things are but a taster of all that we will enjoy at His second Advent, when all things are renewed; all things made right side up.
So, you may hear news that some will try to cancel Christmas and begin to worry, but there is no cause for concern; we have better news: we don’t need Christmas for Christ to have come. The story of Jesus’s birth will still be told and bring hope to many, and of course, God is still in control of history:
“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.”Psalm 2:1-4
A little perspective is here brought to bear, in light of any attempt to ‘cancel’ God, or His Son. They would do well to heed the warning to, “Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 2:12)
There have been many societies that have tried to crush Christianity (not to mention the People of the Book; the Jews) and the message of the Cross (especially: atheistic communism, in modern history, like in Cambodia, Venezuela and Russia to name but a few); also, in the West, they have diluted the first advent – the coming of God in the flesh through Jesus Christ – by adding a lot of noise to Christmas: shop-til-you-drop materialism, over-indulgence, the myth of Father Christmas (as much fun as he is) and many other additional things.
Should Christians worry? Does Christianity ‘need’ Christmas?
The fact remains that the message of Jesus coming (the good news) – His living sinlessly among us; the efficacy of the Cross; the power of His Resurrection in defeating Death; His ascension, in victory, to the Father’s right hand, to intercede and prepare a place for us – still stands and will always stand. It is also worth noting that the church always grows faster when it is under persecution and oppression, as it stands out as a light to the world in stark contrast to the darkness which surrounds it.
So, what does it matter if Christmas or Christianity is rejected by society? Emmanuel still came, and He cannot be cancelled. We will still celebrate His coming and worship His Name. And even if Christmas were to be permanently cancelled, nothing changes: The world is still full of those who have, “no hope and are without God in the world;” Jesus still came to reverse the effects of the curse and bring salvation; the fields are still “white unto harvest;” the message of His coming still brings hope to the world; faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sins still saves those who call upon His name, because:
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone… …6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.”Isaiah 9:1,6-7
Enjoy the festive season, your families, your gifts and all the opportunities it presents us to share the good news, “While it is day; [because] night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4). The only statistic that really matters, is whether you will be found in-Christ at His coming.