5 Reasons Why Many Christians Don’t Know The Christmas Story

For many, the true meaning of Christmas is no secret.  If asked to articulate the true meaning, most would say something like, “Jesus coming to earth,” or some rendition of that.  If you’re a Christian, you might even add, “God with us” or “the birth of our Saviour.”

As a pastor, I wonder how many people could actually share an accurate version of the Christmas story with someone.  The more I talk with others about it, the more I realize, many Christians are unable to go beyond, “Jesus in a manger…and shepherds and wise men visited them.”

So why do people know the meaning of Christmas, but not the story? There are really no excuses for this, especially for Christians; however, I think there are several reasons. Here are 5 reasons that I’ve thought of:

1.      A lack of a Christian culture…

It’s time to face the music ? we don’t live in a Christian culture.  In fact, we may have never lived in a Christian culture, rather, in a culture that generally accepts what most people believe or care for.  In the name of human rights and freedom, Christianity (and religion in general) has been removed from many schools, malls, restaurants, town halls and many other public locations.  Christians go astray, however, when we forget or ignore where our culture is, and do nothing to spread the gospel and Christmas story.  When we ignore the lack of a Christian culture, we push away the Christmas Story with it.

2.      Tradition fills-in unknowns…

If you’ve ever read the Christmas story, as written in the gospels of Matthew and Luke[i], one of the first things you’ll notice is that there’s a lot left out.  For example, scripture doesn’t say how many Magi followed the star to Bethlehem; however, tradition says there were three of them because there were three gifts mentioned.  Likewise, scripture implies the Magi met Jesus as a child and not as a baby; however, tradition says the Magi are a part of the manger scene.[ii]  Sometimes we go astray when we let tradition impact the story.  It’s nice to imagine the story; however, we can’t lose focus on the important things that are actually included in scripture.

3.      It has been 2000 years…

It’s no secret, Jesus was born over 2000 years ago.  It doesn’t make the story’s impact less relevant; however, if we don’t study the text, the story will lose its flavour.  For example, if we let the modern day manger scene depict our idea of how Jesus came into the world, we’ll lose the impact of just how humble a stable was 2000 years ago. Whether it was inside or outside, it was where the animals slept, not humans!  The real humility of the story begins to come to life.  The story is still relevant today, if you’re willing to read it with relative eyes.

4.      Social justice has become the focus…

Giving gifts, helping good causes, or lending a hand are all great things, especially during Christmas!  There are so many ways we can all help each other, family, friends, and those less fortunate.  The story, however, isn’t gift giving; the story is the gift of Christ. Being in the spirit of Christmas is about shining a light towards the gift of Christ, by participating in acts of social justice.  We can’t let social justice take the lead over Christ.  If we do, many Christians will forget the Christmas story and write a new social justice story.

5.      “Santa” is more important…

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” the song proclaims!  I totally agree!  The question is, what’s “wonderful”?  We tend to lose focus on the true Christmas Story because we’re so caught up in Santa, Elf on the Shelf, presents, parties… and the list goes on.  While all of these things can be a lot of fun, if our time, money and lives are geared towards them, we’ll forget the Christmas story before we know it.  At the very least, focusing on the Christmas story will help us slow down during the season so we can focus on what God has in store for us and through us.  Unless God is at the centre, Santa will continue to move us away from knowing the Christmas story.

So where do we go from here?

Can we make sure the Christmas story is heard and known? Can Christians be known for knowing the Christmas story well?  I’m offering a few suggestions for this Christmas:

1.      Read the Story…

Take time to read the Christmas story.  You may want to read it personally, with family, friends, or maybe a study group.  If you’re not sure where to start, check out Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2.

2.      Study the Story…

Learn about the story and challenge yourself.  Take a few minutes to do a simple Google search, ask your local pastor, study it in your Bible Study group, or maybe even read a commentary.  Whatever it takes, learn something new this Christmas!  If you’re not sure where to start, answer this question: what’s different in each gospel story, and why are they different?

3.      Share the Story…

The story doesn’t have the same effect if you keep it to yourself.  The Christmas story is full of HOPE, LOVE, JOY, and PEACE and many around us could use all four!  Maybe you could send out Christmas cards with the story of Christ on them, share something you’ve learned with family and friends, or shine a light towards Christ by helping someone less fortunate.

 

There are so many reasons why Christians don’t know the Christmas story.  Most of those reasons are completely within our control; and, at the end of the day, it all comes down to actually living out what we believe.  We say, “Jesus is the reason for the season,” but do our lives and knowledge of the Christmas story prove it to be true?

 


[i] Matt 1-2; Luke 1-2.

[ii] Matt 2:1-12.