The month of December has rolled around once more, with its annual pressures of conformity to the norms of a society bent on its members indulging in a “Day of materialism and feasting!” The world presses its “magic Christmas button” and you are expected to meekly succumb to its lures and obey its commands without a whimper. The lights twinkle, the music plays and the shopping malls and advertisements become a veritable vanity fair offering every material possession possible.
How are you coping with this annual onslaught from the “god of this world”? If you are young, and new to it all, maybe you still enjoy the novelty of being a part of the excitement and sparkle that Christmas appears to offer you.
However, if you are older, you may feel a sense of heavy-heartedness, that you are stuck on this conveyer belt that expects you to perform in a set way, when you would perhaps just prefer to curl up on the sofa with a good book until it was all over.
In fact, if you just do a quick Google search on my title, “Christmas Conformity,” you will find there are hundreds of articles by and for those who have just had enough of the whole thing!
One newspaper article put it this way:-
“Christmas can be a tricky holiday to get along with. There isn’t a single other day in the calendar so hell-bent on peddling unrealistic ideals and making us conform. And few of us manage to escape its influence.”
I wonder if that little phrase, “hell-bent,” may actually give us some valuable insight into understanding and unwrapping the spiritual pressures that lurk at the heart of Christmas? Who is pushing your buttons and what spirit wants your conformity to these cultural Christmas customs?
Friendship with the World
Now we know that the world generally loves Christmas! You should just see my office. There are Christmas trees everywhere – in fact, it’s like walking through a veritable forest just to get to my desk! Tinsel is strung over the computers and there are Christmas buffets and mince pies galore! I can’t help but overhear conversations about gift buying, shopping sprees and planning multiple feasts and drinking parties, that ebb and flow around me. Although there is an occasional dissenter from such festivities, for the most part, they LOVE IT!
I was brought up to love Christmas too. I did love it. I even seemed to need it! It had a grip on my heart and mind. At one point in my life, I couldn’t even have conceived of not doing it. I used to feel sorry for anyone who didn’t do it. It certainly had strong, deep roots in my heart and mind.
I Gave Up Doing Christmas
My regular readers will know that I did in fact give up “doing Christmas” a few years ago, back in 2016 actually. So that means that I am on my fourth year of non-conformity to Christmas traditions!
You can read my earlier articles on the matter of Christmas at All My Christmas Posts
Nowadays I tend to get through the seasonal madness by procuring my basic food supplies for the month, ahead of the game, so to speak, thus avoiding the hordes of shoppers as much as I can thereafter.
I find that the worldly “Christmas music” pumped out by the shops simply wearies my soul, and the lure of the money-making materialists packaged and peddled by “the god of this world” holds very little appeal for me anymore.
I suppose I have maybe become rather like Christian and Faithful, in the tale of the Pilgrim’s Progress as they pass through “Vanity Fair.”
An extract from the Pilgrim’s Progress (by John Bunyan).
“Then I saw in my dream, that when they were got out of the wilderness, they presently saw a town before them, and the name of that town is “Vanity“; and at the town there is a fair kept, called “Vanity Fair”; it is kept all the year long.
This fair is no new erected business; but a thing of ancient standing.
Almost five thousand years ago, there were pilgrims walking to the Celestial City, as these two honest persons are; and BEELZEBUB, APOLLYON, and LEGION, with their companions, perceiving by the path that the pilgrims made, that their way to the City lay through this town of Vanity, they contrived here to set up a fair; a fair wherein should be sold of all sorts of vanity, and that it should last all the year long.
At this fair are all such merchandise sold: as houses, lands, trades, titles, countries, kingdoms; lusts, pleasures, and delights of all sorts – as wives, husbands, children, servants, silver, gold, pearls, precious stones, and what not.
These pilgrims set very light by all their wares – they cared not so much as to look upon them; and if they called upon them to buy, they would put their fingers in their ears, and cry, “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity;” and look upwards, signifying that their trade and traffic was in heaven.
One chanced mockingly, calling “What will ye, buy?” but they, looking gravely upon him, said, “We buy the truth”.””
The story continues with the fact that there was NO TRUTH at Vanity Fair!
My thoughts have turned to the notion that perchance the enemy of the Christian has set up his “vanity of vanities” on the 25 December, in order to confuse the dear Christian on his or her pilgrimage to the promised land of their King of all Truth. Could it perhaps be time for more Faithfuls and Christians to stick their fingers in their ears to the sparkle and temptations offered by “king mammon” at his Christmas vanity fair?
But We Celebrate the Birth of Jesus…
If you have not before considered the confusion of the mixture of beliefs and practices that occurs at Christmas then you may well be feeling perplexed, or even angry, that a Christian would be suggesting not celebrating the birth of Christ the Saviour. I know, it can all be rather confusing.
At the outset, I do want to totally emphasise that I fully believe the Bible accounts of the birth of Jesus Christ. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit to the virgin Mary and born in Bethlehem. He was worshiped by shepherds who had been visited by the angels. (The Bible accounts for His birth are found in Luke 1 & 2, and also in Matthew 1 & 2). Jesus is the Son of God and that is certain and true. The question is, ought we Christians to be involved in remembering such Bible truths on a particular day of the year – that is on Christmas day?
In my own research I came to the conclusion that Jesus was NOT born on 25 December at all! Please see my previous article here for more details about this matter.
Suffice it to say, that as it is not his birthday, nor did Jesus teach us to celebrate His date of human birth (nor even record his actual date of birth anywhere for us), I feel it is best to be honest about this truth, rather than continue believing and perpetuating fiction. Research tells me that it is more likely that He was born in the autumn time, possibly in September or October.
Mother & Child
I have also discovered that there are a plethora of historic stories surrounding worship of a “mother and child,” from many pagan and other religions, many around long before the birth of Christ!
Still it goes on today. The title “Queen of Heaven” is apparently used by pagans, while Catholics use the ancient title for Mary the mother of Jesus!!
This is in direct opposition to what the Bible expressly teaches. Jeremiah often warned the people of his day to separate from such pagan practices.
“The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke Me to anger.” Jeremiah 7:18
I am aware that Jesus Christ waited until He was a grown man, at aged 30 years, before He started His earthly ministry. I feel that He is to be worshipped as God, the Saviour, and not as a baby. When the focus and methods are wrong, the worship will be wrong too. God gives us the guidlines in the Bible of how we are to aproach Him and how we are not to make up our own rules for worshipping Him. (See my post – God is Still Holy)
Remember what Jesus told the woman at the well.
“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him
must worship in spirit and TRUTH.” John 4:24
Admittedly, coming to terms with all this information did actually take me a few years. I read and thought and prayed. And so it went on year after year.
Until there came a year whereupon I decided that I would not allow any more images of “Father Christmas,” or “Santa Claus,” in my home! He was well and truly banished!
He was booted out, never to return to my home – not through the front door, not through the window and certainly not down my chimney!!
At that point however, I was still celebrating Jesus’ birth at Christmas; or trying to do so, as best I could.
Further down the road of time, I decided not to have any “Christmas trees” in my house. Pagan trees were now banished, along with Santa! They are nothing to do with Jesus or God and so they were booted out too!
I had noticed in the book of Jeremiah, that using decorated trees in idolatrous ways was an ancient pagan practice, that I no longer wanted to be associated with. Any internet search on the pagan roots of Christmas trees will confirm that it is not a practice that is pleasing or honouring to the Lord.
“Thus says the Lord:
“Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven,
For the Gentiles are dismayed at them.
For the customs of the peoples are futile;
For one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
They decorate it with silver and gold; They fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple.” Jeremiah 10:1-4
Just recently I have noticed the following scripture in Deuteronomy 16:21-22
“You shall not plant for yourself any tree, as a wooden image, near the altar which you build for yourself to the Lord your God. You shall not set up a pillar (image or standing image), which the Lord your God hates.”
Strongs Concordance says that a “wooden image” is an “Asherah” (Strong’s 842) – a symbol of a Phoenician goddess which was a tree or pole set up near an altar.
The same word is used in the Judges passage below.
I remember too, reading the story of Gideon, and how God’s first instruction to him was to totally destroy the idol pole that was in his father’s house. “The Lord said to Gideon:-
- tear down the altar of Baal that your father has, and
- cut down the wooden image that is beside it
- and build an altar to the Lord your God on top of this rock in the proper arrangement…”
Judges 6:25-26 (See my post on Gideon here). Basically, God hates wrong worship, done in a wrong way, to a wrong god.
Last Christmas I truly had my eyes opened, when I looked at someone’s Christmas tree with a heap of presents laid under its base. I was totally struck with how it looked like the gifts were offerings to the tree! It really struck me as pagan idolatry in its origins!
On a year when life had really worn me down to a rather depressed condition generally, the whole “thing” that was “Christmas,” became too overwhelming for me to do! In fact, that year Christmas was the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back”, and I decided just not to do it at all! And what a blessed relief that was for me, I can tell you. In fact, I look back on that time of depression and realise that I was totally blessed in finally being able to break free from the feeling of obligation to “doing Christmas.”
I took the time instead, to read lots of articles about the origins of the various elements and traditions that are involved with Christmas. I ruminated upon them and considered if there was anything worth saving from amongst them all.
And my conclusion then, as now, stands at “no”!
Syncretism or Separation?
In my Bible reading over the years, I have come to understand the God (of the Bible) whom I serve, love and worship, reveals Himself to be a jealous God. This is very clear early on in the Bible in the book of Exodus 20:1-5
“And God spoke all these words, saying:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
“You shall have no other gods before Me.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.
For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God …”
The Old Testament writers paint a clear picture of His holiness and His commandments for His people not to mix their religious practices with the detestable practices of the heathen nations around them. God’s people were to be Holy and this meant being different and separate from those who were wicked, pagan or idolatrous.
When ancient Israel took possession of Canaan, it was always clearly understood what needed to be done regarding the total destruction of all pagan symbols, altars, idols, and practices.
Side Note:- To emphasise to the ancient Israelites, how much God HATES syncretism or mixture of the holy and the unholy, He even gave them commandments not to wear clothing made of mixed fibres.
The same teaching occurs in the New Testament also, regarding God’s holiness, and our need to obey His commandments.
“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts (desires), as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written,
“Be holy, for I am holy.”” 1 Peter 1:13-15
Holiness of life is achieved through being filled with God’s Holy Spirit, with the accompanying obedience to God’s commands, as we read the Bible, and grow in our knowledge and likeness of Christ Jesus our Lord and Saviour. By doing these things I have found out that God really hates mixture or syncretism.
So what is Syncretism?
Dictionary definition. “The amalgamation or fusion of different (or opposing) principles, practices, or parties, as in religions, cultures, or philosophies.”
Is Christmas a case of such syncretism?
I should say it certainly is! Without a shadow of a doubt!
It is a mixture of gluttony and drunkenness, materialism and selfishness, lies and paganism (from ancient sun-god worship and winter solstice celebrations) which is then topped off with fictitious, magical tales of Santa and elves!
Then somewhere in the annals of history (around the 4th century), someone (Roman Catholic church) tacked onto this ungodly mixture a little something to placate the “Christians”. The totally ungodly Catholic Mass was eventually used as the name for the day – and Christ mass or Christmas was born!
This certainly meets the above dictionary definition of syncretism.
Christmas is a seductive syncretism! That is, it is a mixture of religion and worldliness, of the holy and the profane, all on the same day! And that, my friends, is not good!
Remember the Old Testament priestly role was:-
“And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.” Ezekiel 44:23
Remember too the apostle John’s teaching in 1 John 2:15-17
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”
The “world” my friends, is not a passive entity! It is a strong rival to the almighty God of Truth; it ever lives to draw you away from the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; it pulls at your heart and mind, seeking your acquiescence and your “agape love.” In fact, it has deep roots in enemy territory, as its ruler is none other than the great deceiver, the adversary, called Satan!!
“We know that we are of God,
and the whole world lies under the sway of the WICKED ONE.”
1 John 5:19
“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked;
- according to the course of this world,
- according to the prince of the power of the air,
- the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,
- among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh,
- and were by nature children of wrath…” Ephesians 2:1-3
Although we live our lives amongst unbelievers, we are to be salt and light as Christian believers. We live IN but are not to be OF the world.
Separation & Holiness
Does Christmas still have a grip upon your heart, pulling you into its web? Do you fall in line when the Christmas Pied Piper whistles his tune? Do you “shop ’till you drop” in order to satisfy its demands?
If so, please consider that the “spirit of Christmas,” or the “magic of Christmas,” may very well be a spirit that is actually in enmity towards God!
Remember the start of the 10 Commandment’s where God tells us He is a “jealous God”. Consider also the apostle Paul’s exhortation to be separate from unbelievers, lawless ones, those in darkness and those under the influence of Belial.
“O Corinthians! … Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.
For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?
- And what communion has light with darkness?
- And what accord has Christ with Belial?
- Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?
- And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?
For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will dwell in them and walk among them.
I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
Therefore:- “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.”
2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (quoting Exodus 29:45 & Isaiah 52:11)
Side Note: – Rather interestingly, I have just discovered that although Belial means “wickedness” or “worthlessness,” which is used as a name of Satan, one source says that it means “lord of the forest”! Hmmm…..
Conformed or Transformed?
Now I realise that there are a few discerning Christians out there; those who have maybe taken the steps to ban Santa, and perhaps not have a tree in their homes. However, you may still wish to continue having a family “Christmas dinner,” based around the concept of “celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ” on 25 December.
To you I say, if He was not born on that day, and you can now see that historically that the day has much that is offensive to God, would it be better to prayerfully consider making further changes to your practices on this day?
“Do not be conformed to this world (age), but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2
Dictionary definition of transformed:- “ To change completely the appearance or character of something or someone, especially so that the person or thing is improved.”
It is the New Testament Greek word, “metamorphousthe” – Strongs 3339 – meaning transform or transfigure – it is the root of the English term “metamorphosis”.
Do you want God to transform or metamorphosize your mind and heart for you? I do hope so. This is the way that the Lord teaches us His “good and acceptable and perfect will.”
Remember Jesus’ prayer for His disciples in John 17 where He said, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.“
We simply must love the truth if we are to please God. Without such a love for truth, and a hunger and thirst for righteousness, we are in grave danger of being deceived and perishing in the final judgement.
“ The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” 2 Thess 2:9-10
As I look back over the last few years, I realise that my heart and mind have undergone a complete metamorphosis in beliefs and practices regarding Christmas. It has been in stages, like the removal of the layers of paper on a well wrapped present.
The first year that I gave it all up did feel a little odd! It felt like waking up from some kind of mind control on the whole population. It felt odd to be free and not obliged to purchase the Christmas paraphernalia that I used to buy. It felt odd to think of everyone else still being captive to the mindset of conformity that places an obligation to perform in a certain way on a certain day.
I was now outside the “Christmas mind-cage”, looking back at the captives still held in its grip, and wondering at what kind of “magical spirit” puppet-master was casting his spell to such an extent over the whole wide world.
I will leave you with the following passages of scripture that urge repentance of all wrong practices and exhort believers to engage in true worship of the Lord God.
“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained.” Acts 17:30-31
Jesus said:- “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth;
for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.
God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
My hope for you dear reader, is that you would consider prayerfully researching all that I have touched upon in this article, as you seek the truth about the Christmas customs that you participate in.
You can read all my earlier articles on the matter of Christmas at All My Christmas Posts
or select them from the list below.
I welcome your input so if you would like to share any comments please feel free to do so in the section below. Thank you. (You can find my full Comments Policy here.)