Christmas – when non-Christians live the gospel too

Christians are often blamed for dumping a wet blanket on “the other Christmas”, the secular, worldly Christmas with all its stress, self-indulgence and exploitation by business. But why shouldn’t Christians be miffed? Christmas is our day. For 16 centuries it’s been set aside by Christians to celebrate God coming to this Earth to live and die as a human being on our behalf so that we can be what God created us to be. And, what’s more, Christ is coming in the lives of people right now to make it happen, and one day he’ll make it happen for everyone.

But the culture ignores all that. It’s not the least bit interested in why Christ was born. It uses Christmas for its own ends and celebrates Santa Claus instead. But why? Why on earth would non-Christians take a Christian day, keep its Christian name, and carelessly risk preserving the Christian message by keeping Christmas alive?!

But non-Christians can’t stop keeping Christmas. They love it, despite its Christian origins, despite the blatant Christian message being pumped out in Christmas carols, and despite the Nativity scenes in Malls and store windows. But isn’t that the delight of Christmas for Christians, that non-Christians can’t resist a season promoting peace and goodwill? And they can’t resist being kinder and jollier at Christmas-time, either. And they love doing all kinds of “Christiany” things too, like giving to charities and feeding the hungry, and Christmas probably does more for family togetherness than anything else all year.

In other words, non-Christians are getting the message. They may not be consciously celebrating Christ’s birth, but they’re experiencing and enjoying what Christ was born for. The promise made at Christ’s birth was “peace to everyone on whom his favour rests,” Luke 2:14. And on whom does his favour rest? On EVERYONE. He showed us through Jesus’ death that he loves us all, and Christmas is a perfect proof of it, because NON-Christians get to experience the peace that comes with it too. Talk about mercy. Non-Christians don’t want anything to do with God all year but at Christmas the purpose of Christ’s birth is being fulfilled in their lives too.

It’s also the season when Christians and non-Christians can celebrate together, proof yet again that Christ’s birth would bring peace. But that’s the magic of Christmas; it brings us together. It’s a convoluted, awkward way of doing it, with its mixture of Christian and non-Christian reasons for celebrating it,  but at Christmas we all share the same dream. We long for peace on earth – and for a few brief moments we all get to experience a taste of it together, just as God intended.

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