Paradox of the Christ-less Christmas
by Hal Lindsey
On the MerryChristmasBill.com website, a woman wrote an all too familiar story about the elementary school where her daughter teaches 5th graders.
“They are not allowed to even put up a Christmas tree.… The children or the teachers or other school personnel cannot say ‘Merry Christmas’ to each other or to the children, nor can they exchange any Christmas cards or Christmas gifts to each other.… My daughter informs me she and other teachers can be fired if they attempt to break this rule. So, no Merry Christmas at school, no nativity, and no Christmas tree or gifts.”
A principal in Brooklyn this year banned Santa Claus, the Pledge of Allegiance, and Thanksgiving. The PTA president said, “We definitely can’t say Christmas, nothing with Christmas on it, nothing with Santa. No angels. We can’t even have a star because it can represent a religious system, like the Star of David.”
After the ban on Santa received national publicity, the school quickly changed course. The morning after the story broke, the Superintendent for that district went to the school. Minutes after his arrival, two students led the children in the Pledge of Allegiance. Santa and Thanksgiving have also been reinstated, but the district still bans religious figures and texts.
Most public schools have outlawed anything that strikes them as religious — unless the religion in question happens to be Islam. This Christmas, a public school in Minnesota included the Muslim song “Eid un Sa’Eid – Zain Bhikha” in their “holiday” celebration. The song includes the phrase “Allahu Akbar.” Putting Islam in the best light possible remains a priority in our nation’s public schools.
But banning Christmas is not as easy as it sounds. The word “holiday,” which seems okay with the authorities, comes from the Old English word, “hāligdæg.” It means “Holy Day.”
What makes Christmas holy? Christ. And that’s the problem. People can say that they like Jesus, and only hate Christians and Christianity. But their real problem is with Him. Jesus is the One who said only God is good, which means that we are not. He’s the One who taught that human beings are all sinners and in desperate need of a Savior. He’s the One who spoke more about hell than anyone else in the Bible. It was Jesus who identified Himself as God’s only begotten Son, and the only way of salvation.
They don’t like any of that. That’s why Jesus said, “‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.” [John 15:20-21 NASB]
That’s why they want a Christ-less Christmas.
But it doesn’t work. It can’t work. Remove Christ, and Christmas becomes trivial. The meaning and richness come from Him. The enduring story of Christmas is not Santa Claus, but a birth that took place in a stable; a Child laid in a manger.
Three verses in the Gospel of John illustrate the real power of Christmas.
John 1:1 — “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
John 1:14 — “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
John 3:16 — “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Almost everyone loves certain aspects of Christmas. But in modern America, few understand that joy, giving, and “peace on earth” cannot be removed from “For God so loved the world.”
It’s very much like a Christmas tree. We cut it down, put it on a stand, and decorate it. But it’s dead. It died the moment we severed it from its roots. Christmas is the same. Cut it away from its roots, and it can still be decorated. It can still be fun and briefly beautiful, but the green will soon turn brown. In a short time, the festive tree becomes a fire hazard that must be thrown away.
Take Christ from Christmas, and you’re left with a dead tree. Only He animates the joy, and gives life to the music. God’s Gift to the world, Jesus, gives meaning to our small gifts.