Welcome back to the Health for the Spirit, Soul, and Body blog! As the festive season wraps the world in its warm, sparkling embrace, I invite you on a journey—a journey that unwraps the layers of Christmas, peeling back the commercial glitter to reveal the heart of this beloved holiday. This is not just a tale of merriment and joy, but a personal exploration of faith, culture, and the true essence of Christmas. From my childhood in Nigeria to my experiences around the world, join me as we look into the myriad ways Christmas is celebrated, and rediscover the profound significance of this special time of year.
Nowadays, people perceive Christmas in various ways. Some see it simply as another holiday, a break from the daily 9-to-5 routine, using it as a time to rest. Others view it as an opportunity to complete all the tasks they’ve postponed throughout the year. This includes painting houses, replacing old furniture, and buying new curtains, often leading to unnecessary debt. For some, Christmas is a time for family reunions. During this period, not attending family gatherings can be seen as taboo or even sacrilegious, compelling people to travel even under difficult conditions. Then there are those who use Christmas as an occasion for debate, arguing over its nature as a Christian or non-Christian holiday, the actual birthdate of Christ, and historical decisions, like the Roman emperor’s decree to celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December. The myriad of perspectives on Christmas has truly surprised me.
Growing Up with Christmas Celebration in Nigeria
Growing up in Nigeria during the early 70s and 80s, Christmas was a significant part of my life. I viewed it as a major highlight and a time of celebration for the year. The period was magical and interesting, filled with lots of food, church visits, gift exchanges, and singing Christmas carols. As a young and naive child, I believed this was how Christmas was celebrated all over the world. However, after relocating and living outside Nigeria, I’ve realized that Christmas is celebrated differently in various places, which isn’t surprising. But what has truly astonished me is the extensive debate over how Christmas should be celebrated. It’s quite intriguing to observe these differences.
The Lee Strobel Revelation
I recently came across a story about an investigative journalist named Lee Strobel, who I know from his books. As a legal correspondent, Strobel embarked on a quest prompted by his wife becoming a Christian. His aim was to use secular history to prove that Christianity was a fable, and that Jesus never walked the earth. He hoped to convince his wife not to become a Christian. So, he travelled extensively, speaking to scholars, and visiting Israel. However, when he delved into historical research and conducted factual investigations, what he discovered was surprising: there was more evidence that Jesus Christ was born on this earth than for the existence of Napoleon. This evidence, found in writings and other sources, was more conclusive. This revelation was shocking to me. Previously, I had believed without question, but learning that archaeology, science, and other fields align with and support the Bible has bolstered my confidence to minister the word and embrace its teachings. You can search for Lee Strobel; he has written several books about his investigations into Christianity, including topics like Christ, Christmas, Easter, and many other areas.
Reflecting on the Date of Jesus’ Birth
Historically, it’s accepted that Jesus was born, but there’s much debate about the exact date. Some argue it couldn’t have been on the 25th of December, as it would have been too cold for shepherds to be out in the field, suggesting a springtime birth instead. This debate reminds me of the story of my own father’s birthday. In many countries, including where my father was born in a village in Nigeria, records weren’t meticulously kept. My father knew he was born in the year a well-known ruler visited Nigeria, but the exact day and month was unknown. After understanding the significance of a birthday, he chose to celebrate it on a specific day in April each year, deciding that knowing the year of his birth was important, eve if he did not know the exact date. This perspective shifted my view on the date of Jesus’ birth. Whether he was born in spring or December, the key point is that he was born. Since there’s no definitive date, and like my father, I see value in choosing a date to commemorate. Therefore, when it comes to Christmas, I choose to remember and celebrate his birth, regardless of the exact historical date.
Paul’s Strategy and Our Approach to Christmas
One of Paul’s strategies, particularly clear during his time in Greece, was to engage with the local culture and attitudes to connect with people on their level. This approach is highlighted in Acts 17:23, where Paul observes, ‘For as I passed by and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To the unknown God. Whom therefore you ignorantly worship, Him I declare unto you.’ In Athens, Paul noticed the many idols, including one dedicated to an ‘unknown God’—a deity they acknowledged without understanding. Paul seized this opportunity to introduce Christ to them.
Similarly, I see the widespread excitement around Christmas as an opportunity to share the true meaning of the holiday. Instead of letting people celebrate without understanding, I choose to use this time to herald the birth of Jesus Christ, focusing on what we are truly celebrating at Christmas. For me, when I reflect on the incredible sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for my sins to save me, I feel that every day should be a celebration akin to Christmas. However, if I had to choose a specific day in the year to commemorate this, I would pick December 25th. I see it as a time not just for celebration, but also for being a blessing and for ministry.
Conclusion: Embracing the True Spirit of Christmas
In conclusion, Christmas is a time of reflection and celebration, a reminder of Jesus Christ’s birth. Let’s carry this spirit throughout the year. If this post resonated with you, please share it with others. As we draw close to this special day, may we all take a moment to consider what Christmas truly means to us, and how we can share that meaning with others around us.
Thank you for joining me on this journey. I wish you a Merry Christmas filled with love and blessings. Feel free to share your own Christmas experiences in the comments. Let’s continue to unwrap the true meaning of Christmas together. Merry Christmas and May the Lord Jesus bless you today, in Jesus’ name. Amen.