What’s so Merry about Christmas? Truth.

During the Christmas season I usually spend time contemplating what makes this time of year merry. As a Christian, my focus is on a baby born in a manger nearly 2000 years ago. What bearing does it have on merrymaking that a child was born in poverty so long ago?

One word in particular keeps coming to mind. That word is truth. John’s Gospel tells us that the child is God, the Word made flesh, who came full of grace and truth.[1] Years later when the child grew up, he announced that the truth he proclaimed would bring freedom.[2]

Truth brings freedom? Do we really believe this? The extent to which we lie indicates that we actually believe truth brings bondage. Why do children lie about stealing a cookie, politicians about their marital infidelity, or loved ones about taking illegal substances? We lie because we believe the truth won’t set us free. If we tell the truth things will go bad for us. We’ll lose the freedom we desire. We run from truth.

There are also times we tell the truth and experience the bondage we fear. Telling the truth has led to the loss of jobs, freedom, and even life. It’s hard to believe truth brings liberty when our experience so often tells us a different story. Truth can be painful.

Add to this our relativistic understanding of truth. In our postmodern and pluralistic culture, there is no absolute truth; rather, truth is up to the individual. What’s true for you might not be true for me. The only absolute truth is that there are no absolute truths.

Let’s face it. Truth is not popular. Look at two examples from the holiday season that highlight this. First, why is there such a push to take “Christ” out of Christmas? I believe it is because the basis of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ is a unique and absolute truth claim. If Jesus is the only way to God and heaven, that excludes all other ways. This is not a politically or culturally correct belief. Who is Jesus, and who are Christians, to tell others that their understanding of truth is wrong?

A second example comes from the 1994 rendition of Miracle on 34th Street. Bryan Bedford, the attorney defending Santa Claus, asks the judge, “Is it better to tell a lie that brings a smile, or a truth that brings a tear?” with the clear implication that a happy falsehood is better than a sad truth. This is a sobering and enlightening commentary on our culture. We’d rather feel illusions of happiness and freedom in a lie than feel sad or constricted by the truth.

Yet the irony is we affirm that which we deny. In our running from truth and denying any absolute truth standard, we affirm that absolute truth exists. This is because “the very affirmation that all truth is unknowable is itself presented as a truth affirmation. As a truth statement purporting that no truth statement can be made it undercuts itself.”[3]

Just as the denial of absolute truth undercuts itself, running from truth never lives up to the freedom and pain-free life we hope for. The more we run from the truth, choosing to live a lie, the deeper our bondage becomes. Who hasn’t heard the heartbreaking stories of damages caused by affairs, or seen someone destroy their life with a drug addiction they refuse to acknowledge exists? Sooner or later, when we exchange truth for a lie, we fall into a trap that is often inescapable.

So far none of this conjures up warm fuzzy feelings of merriment during the holiday season. This is where the uniqueness of the Christmas message, the birth of a baby boy so long ago, steps into the defiance, pain, and confusion that often surrounds truth.

When the Christ Child became a Man, he defined truth for us in a very profound and shocking way, “I am the truth.” He didn’t say he was a truth among many, nor had some true things to say. He claimed to be the Truth. This is the height of arrogance, the climax of insanity, or the clearest understanding of reality ever given. It’s one thing to claim to know something true. It’s something entirely different to claim that truth is defined in a Person and you are that Person.

In claiming to be the Truth, Jesus made himself to be the one who clearly and accurately defines for us life and reality. In other words, he claimed to be God. And if God exists, than he is eternal, sovereign, and all-knowing. This means only he has the final say on truth. Therefore, to know absolute Truth one must know Jesus Christ.

If Jesus is the Truth then our understanding of freedom and bondage is radically changed as well. Jesus said he came to offer fullness of life, joy, and peace, making it possible for us to receive his offer through the triumph of his death and resurrection. If it is truth that sets free, and he is that truth, then freedom, life, joy, and peace must come from him.

For those who believe Jesus’ claim, this is a reason to be merry at Christmas. The Truth, Jesus, offers to set you free. His truth shines like a beacon of hope into the darkness of the lies that have ensnared us. Far from the bondage we fear, the child born in a manger brings life in the fullest sense of the word. This is truly tidings of comfort and joy.

[1] John 1:14, 17

[2] John 8:31-32

[3] Norman Geisler, Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990), p. 133-134

4 thoughts on “What’s so Merry about Christmas? Truth.

  1. This probably won’t stay posted for long….

    I just don’t get it. “For those who believe Jesus’ claim, this is a reason to be merry at Christmas.”

    Why is it at this time? I’ve done research of numerous articles that says that Jesus was NOT born on December 25. Not even anywhere near that date. The shepherds weren’t in the fields tending sheep on December 25th in Israel, and He was not born in a building/barn as depicted in most images. The word “Christmas” like the word “Christian” are not even in any scripture.

    It doesn’t take much searching anymore to find the true dates (or at least truer date). Christmas is a tradition taken over by marketing hype. Churches still celebrate it because they are afraid to loose their denominations by teaching truth. People don’t want truth in church, they want tradition. If truth truly mattered worshipers would seek it and find that December 25 was a pagan holiday of worship and adopted by Roman churches. Santa or Saint Nicholas had nothing to do with Jesus. If kids knew the origination of elves it would scare the daylights out of them. Jesus had nothing to do with a specific event on December 25th. Only sometimes does Hanukkah (jewish hoiday) even coincide with December 25th.

    I grew up going to church and celebrating christmas like most other christians. But now that I know truth about His birth date and place, I’ve become a bit of a scrooge knowing christmas is all a falsehood. You don’t need christmas to spend time together with family and friends or buying presents for people that probably don’t need the stuff with money you spent on a credit card doesn’t make christmas.
    You don’t need a special date to worship Him or His birth. But if you are going to do it… it’s time people get their act together, study scripture for the TRUTH and discover when his birth date really is. Does celebrating His birth on the correct day matter? Tell any child you are going to celebrate his/her birthday 4-5 months from what it actually is and they will become upset. Start insisting your clergy have a shred of decency and teach the truth from scripture and if they won’t find another church. Most clergy know (taught in seminary) that December 25 is not the correct date. But they teach/preach it to their congregations for fear of either loosing their church credentials from their denominational leadership or people leaving their church to go ignorantly to another church that will celebrate the lie.

    If you really love Jesus – learn what He really taught and how He really lived. When you spend time learning this truth, you will see how much Roman influence changed His teachings over the centuries. Was he born? Yes. Did He die on a cross? Yes. But the actual dates of these events are wrong as taught in churches. Yes, understanding what is written in scripture will show when these events truly happened. Be careful tough in seeking the truth, because it may change your life and church.

    • Thanks for your comment. There’s a lot of content here, and I want to try to respond to it as much as possible. You are correct, Jesus was not born on December 25. He was born sometime in the spring… maybe April… He was not born in a barn, but most likely a cave, which are common in the rocky/hilly area surrounding Bethlehem.
      However, it is inaccurate to say the word “Christian” is not in the Bible. It’s recorded in Acts 11:26.
      I wonder where you’re getting your information that Churches still celebrate Christmas in December because they’re afraid to lose their denominations? While I’m sure there are some Christians who don’t realize that Jesus wasn’t born in December, I have yet to meet a Christian or church that that takes Scripture seriously and says Jesus was born in December and that this is the only time of year we can celebrate his birth. Yes, “Christmas” was first celebrated in December as an alternative for Christians who didn’t want to celebrate a pagan holiday. But this doesn’t make Christmas deceptive, especially because what we celebrate isn’t the DATE Christ was born, but the fact that God took on humanity.
      Could some clergy teach/preach Jesus being born on Dec. 25 for deceptive and wrong reasons? Sure. But I’d be careful with insinuating that most do so and that you know their motives behind it.
      I love Jesus deeply, and I daily desire to learn what he taught and how he lived. I use this time of year to remind me that in order to live and teach, he had to be born. It’s the TRUTH of his birth we celebrate, and that’s something we can rejoice over on Dec. 25 as easily as any other day of the year, and hopefully we do.

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