“The true meaning of Christmas is to cheer people up during a cold and depressing time of year. That means lots of food, getting together with family and friends, giving each other gifts, being kind to others, and helping those in need.”
Those are the thoughts of blogger, atheist and humanist Staks Rosch in a 2013 article on The Huffington Post blog (see link below). He continued:
“Whatever excuse you want to use to celebrate the winter season is great. Jews celebrate a day’s worth of oil that lasted eight nights. As excuses go, that’s pretty weak, but if it makes people happy, great. Celebrate long-lasting oil, the tilt of the Earth’s axis, the birth of a mythical figure, a funny episode from a sitcom, the Flying Spaghetti Monster (sauce be upon him), Human Light, or even Star Wars Life Day. Whatever you celebrate, have a happy holiday season.” He concluded with a tribute to the famous and now deceased Christopher Hitchens (a hero to all those who hate religion).
As you might imagine, I do not appreciate Mr. Rosch’s comments. In particular, I think he is a bit naive to state that Jesus was a mythical figure. Even the Jewish historian Josephus acknowledged that Jesus actually lived when we believe that He did.
Jesus truly was a Jewish man, born in Israel over two thousand years ago. The real question is whether or not He was who He claimed to be. One of the men that walked with Him for three years was from the fishing village of Bethesda located on the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee. His name was Peter. As Peter sensed the end of his life approaching, he wrote two letters. We know them as 1 & 2 Peter. In his second epistle, he wrote the following:
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty (chapter one, New American Standard Bible [NASB]).
Another eye-witness stated it this way:
14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth (John, chapter one, NASB).
Several years later, the same author would write the following to one of the early congregations:
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life (1 John 1:1; NASB).
If the New Testament is clear about anything, it is that Jesus of Nazareth walked among us!
However, in order to believe what He claimed about Himself and what others (Peter, John, Paul, etc.) taught, you must be given a gift–the gift of faith. Knowledge takes us to a point. Faith completes the journey. But faith, according to the Scripture, is not something we can create ourselves. It is a gift, given by God (Ephesians 2:8). And, I contend, it is the greatest gift one could receive!
Have you received it?
Have you asked God for it?
You may be content to be–like the atheist author quoted above–an unbeliever. Please know, I am not more intelligent than Mr. Rosch. In fact, he could probably run circles around me intellectually and defeat me in an argument with one arm tied behind his back. But I have received something he has not–the gift of faith. It really is that simple. I was given a gift and I opened it. I believed. That’s why Christmas is more to me than “lots of food, getting together with family and friends, giving each other gifts, being kind to others, and helping those in need.” Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate all those activities mentioned! BUT I APPRECIATE JESUS CHRIST EVEN MORE!
And that is what makes my Christmas worth celebrating.
For another perspective than the one offered by The Huffington Post, consider: