Saturday, December 23, 2006

Putting the "Hell" Back into Christmas

We have heard it time and time again–"Lets put the Christ back in Christmas." But what does this mean? How do you put the Christ back in Christmas? What does this look like? How does this change the way we celebrate? How does this change the way we open presents? For many people, putting Christ back into Christmas merely means mentioning His name and reading about His birth in the first few chapters of the Gospel of Matthew before opening presents.

Let me tell you what I mean when I say, "I am putting the Christ back in Christmas." The whole purpose of the Christmas holiday is not merely to remember Christ, rather it is to celebrate who Christ is and what Christ has done. What has Christ done that is so worthy of celebration? Most would say, "Well, He became a man! At Christmas we celebrate His birth!"

I have tried this approach for many years and have nearly exhausted myself trying to get excited about the birth of Christ. Don’t get me wrong, the birth of Christ is very exciting. But throughout the years I have always known that there is something more to Christmas than the Birth of Jesus.

About two years ago I got honest with myself (something that people need to do more often). I expressed my thoughts to myself about Christmas and how I really just didn’t have much excitement left when it came to thinking about the birth of Christ. So I said to myself, "OK, Jesus is born! What else is there."

Then I began to ask myself questions (something else that most people need to do more often). I just knew that there had to be something more. So I asked myself one simple question, "What makes the birth of Christ so exciting?"

Did Jesus come and live among us because he just wanted to hang out? Why did God become a man? Did he want to be shorter than the trees? Or was it because he wanted to know what it was like to be a human? Was it some kind of Divine experiment? Of course not!

Why then did God become a man? Because man was in need of salvation–a salvation that could only be accomplished by God. The reason God became a man was to die in the place of man.

I hate to ruin the Christmas holiday by bring up a naughty word, but I must. HELL!

"What? Are you morbid or something? The thought of Hell is what brought life back to Christmas for you?"


If you leave Hell out of Christmas, then you have left Christ out of Christmas. Without Hell there would be no Christmas. Christ became a man to save us from Hell. Christmas is a time of celebration. It is a time to celebrate the victory we have in Jesus.

Check out what the author of the Letter to the Hebrews has to say about Christ becoming a man:

"Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people" (Hebrews 2:14-17).

Christmas is my way of celebrating the fact that Christ became a man in order to take hell in my place.

Christmas is also a time of mourning. We mourn for those who have not come to know Christ and His saving grace. In America we want everything to be nice and happy. We want Christmas to be happy and fun, but if we want to put the Christ back in Christmas there must be a sad element to Christmas. We must not only think of a cute little baby in a manger, we must also think of a bloody savior on a cross. Christmas is one of the biggest reminders, for those who have placed their faith in Christ, that men are in need of a savior. Most people in the world have not repented of their sins and turned to the Lord Jesus Christ. Most people in this world are going to Hell. Christmas is a time to celebrate what Christ has done, but it is also to be a sobering reminder that putting the Christ back in Christmas is not a mere desire. It is a grave necessity.

It is not wrong to have fun on Christmas, but it is wrong, for the sake of fun and presents, to take Christ out of Christmas. Christ was not born for nothing. Christ was born to die–to die for sinners. Christ did not die for nothing–He died to save men from Hell.

Ignorance is bliss, but intentional ignorance for the sake of uninterrupted fun and presents is morbid.

Rejoice this Christmas that Christ is mighty to save. Mourn over those who have not yet experienced His saving power.

If you are not a believer, if you have not repented of your sins and thrown yourself on Christ as your only hope of heaven, let the thought of Christ being born convince you that you are on your way to Hell. Trust Him! Trust Him! God became a man to save you from an eternal Hell. He is mighty to save! Put the Christ back into Christmas!

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