Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Merry Christmas?

Meditation for the week of December 19, 2010

Hebrews 9:22 And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.

In 2005, the American Family Association targeted the Target Stores because they were banning the greeting “Merry Christmas” from their advertising and their stores.  The AFA said that Target employees could not use the greeting to greet customers although that does not appear to be true.  If it was true, the employees in most stores did not carry out the directive since those who checked found that employees would respond to a greeting with “Merry Christmas”.  It is clear that the public outcry worked because late in 2005, the Target store lifted the ban in its advertising.  Recently (in 2010) I was in a Target store in Waterloo, Iowa that had a “Merry Christmas” sign hung in the store.  AFA and others who promoted “Merry Christmas” in our stores and commercial establishments must have made the Lord very very happy.  Or did they?

The gospel emphasizes a bloody sacrifice for our sins followed by victory because of  the resurrection of Christ.  Christmas emphasizes the joy and innocence of the Lord’s birth but not the pain and sorrow of His death.  The word Christmas, of course, really means Christ Mass.  Religious groups that celebrate the mass say that it involves a bloodless sacrifice of the Lord Jesus since the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper become the actual body and blood of the Lord.  They believe this sacrifice is effective in putting away sin.  It is not my desire to offend anyone, but I want to make it abundantly clear that I do not believe that the Bible teaches that Christ is or needs to be offered over and over again.  My salvation is dependent on my confidence in the fact that Christ died once for our sins, was buried and was raised again the third day all according to the old testament Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

The Bible says that Christ offered Himself once (Hebrews 9:26-28).  The Bible says that the sacrifice that satisfied God with regard to the payment for our sins was finished at the cross (John 19:30). There is a continual remembrance of that one sacrifice through the Lord’s Supper, but the Lord only had to die once for our sins.  When we are occupied with a “merry” Christmas we certainly aren’t occupied with the sorrows of the cross. When we get occupied with the bloodless sacrifice of the mass, we certainly aren’t preaching the clear Gospel that involves blood.  Putting Christ back into a “Merry Christmas” is putting Him where he never was and never would want to be.

Celebrating a “Merry Christmas” as though it really honors the Lord must be somewhat like having a birthday party for a person who really didn’t want one.  When he comes home and finds his friends and relatives all bearing gifts and standing ready to honor him, he has to act happy and appreciative even though he did not want the party.  I really believe that when the Lord said in 1 Corinthians 11:26, “ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes,”  that He really does want a memorial to His death til he comes.  But where do we find Him asking for a “Merry Christmas” as a way to celebrate his birth?  I’ve looked and looked for His request and have never found it.

I have no problem with a holiday season where we enjoy family and friends and give gifts to one another and to the needy.  I have no problem with a holiday season that honors the Lord as the one sacrifice for sins that satisfied God on our behalf.  We should be doing this all the time anyway.  I have no problem with a holiday season that emphasizes the need to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus and that has Christians coming together to remember Him in the Lord’s Supper.  The Lord used this holiday season to preach the truth to the Jewish crowds in John 10:22.  There the holiday was the man-made feast of Hanukah which was called the Feast of Dedication.

I fail to understand how we can get the true Gospel into a celebration that is merry and that offers Christ as a bloodless sacrifice over and over again  I would not be at all offended if you wanted to greet me with “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” rather than with “Merry Christmas”  this time of the year.  I realize that most people use “Merry Christmas” traditionally without realizing what the true meaning of the greeting is.  Therefore,  if you greet me with “Merry Christmas”, I will probably just smile and say, “Thank you.”

Bruce Collins

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