Christmas Explains Religious Division
December 25th is a day of division. Heralded by the world as the birth of Christ, Christmas has taken its place in the historical record as being true. Few if any would deny the veracity of the clear teaching of the Bible that Jesus was born on December 25th and that while He lay in a manger, shepherds and wise men (three to be exact) visited while a star shone brightly above.
Everyone knows the story in exact detail. Joseph and Mary arrive in Bethlehem but find no room to lodge. With the birth of Jesus upon them, the young couple find a stable to bring the baby Jesus into the world. Wrapped in swaddling clothes, Jesus is laid in a manger. Presently, shepherds visit the baby glorifying what they see. Moments later three wise men arrive leaving precious gifts for the family. During the confusion a little drummer boy shows up to play a tune. The star shines brightly upon the manger as the angels sing above.
During the month of December carolers sing Christmas hymns about the birth of Jesus, churches fill with seasonal guests unfamiliar with the surroundings and the Christian world celebrates the birth of God’s Son. Everything about the Christmas story is true as long as an appeal for the authority of the Bible is not demanded. Ironically, the one book in the whole world that tells the complete story of the birth of Jesus is never consulted for the truth of the story. That might cause too much confusion on the parts of those who know the real story of Christmas.
Imagine the shock of the person who reads the gospels of Matthew and Luke finding what really happened when Jesus was born. Yes, Joseph and Mary could not find lodging in Bethlehem. It is also true Jesus was born in a place where animals are kept and wrapped in swaddling clothes was laid in a manger. The Bible does tell of the visit by the shepherds. This is where the story takes a very different view compared to modern theological wisdom. In fact, the ‘star’ never appeared over the manger scene. The wise men did not come to Bethlehem until Jesus was nearly two years old and they found Him living in a house with His parents. The star did guide the wise men and the star did shine over the house – notice the word house – where Joseph and Mary were living at the time. Whether there were three wise men, twelve, twenty or fifty the Bible does not tell. No one knows how many wise men there were but we know of the gifts brought for Jesus.
The likelihood of Jesus being born in December is doubtful. No one knows when Jesus was born. All that can be ascertained is that He was born on one of seven days in a week and what month and day no one knows. Luke tells us that Mary was among the early disciples when the church began (Acts 1). She knew when Jesus was born but the record never reveals it. The early church had the mother of Jesus in their midst and never celebrated His birth.
Paul warned, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8). Christmas is a fabricated festival celebrating the birth of Jesus without the blessing of God. The birth of Jesus is very important to the scheme of redemption but the early disciples went everywhere preaching His resurrection – not His birth. Salvation came ultimately in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
What is peculiar about Christmas is how easy people are dissuaded to believe something that is not in the Bible. The story of Jesus birth is in Matthew and Luke but the celebration of Christmas never tells the story as it is written. If religious people are willing to ignore the true story of His birth in plain truth, what other areas are they willing to turn a blind eye and ignore? The reason there are so many churches is that people refuse to follow what they can find in scripture. If a survey would be taken of the doctrines of the religious world, few if any would be found in the Bible. Does that matter?
Christmas is the reason for the season of division. Churches are divided by name, doctrine, organization and purpose because people are willing to accept whatever is taught in their religious group. A paradox is found when those who refuse to follow its teachings hold up the Bible in reverence. Bible based doctrine suggests that what is being taught is found on the pages of holy writ.
When John wrote the Revelation he concluded his book, “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18-19). Paul declared to the church at Corinth, “That you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other” (1 Corinthians 4:6). What is in the Bible should remain in the Bible and what is left out should be left out. Celebrating December 25 as the birthday of Jesus is adding to the word of God and taking away the word of God that declares the glory of His resurrection. The religious world has been doing that for nearly two thousand years and especially in the last five hundred years.
Unity will come when we “speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). December 25th is not the birth of Jesus and should not be celebrated as such. Religious division is an abomination to the eyes of the Lord. Let’s get back to what the Bible says and let the Bible be our only guide.