Shared beliefs around Christmas can provide a foundation for moving someone beyond Jesus’s manger to His cross and empty tomb.
By Aaron Earls
Christians can often feel as if we’re pushing uphill explaining our faith to those around us. But Christmas is a time when most of the culture is already contemplating our Savior.
You don’t have to convince people to think about Christmas. Nine in 10 Americans already celebrate the holiday, including 82% of the religiously unaffiliated and 74% of those from non-Christian faiths.
Obviously, celebrating the holiday of Christmas is not the same thing as following Jesus. Still, Christmas draws people further down the path than you might realize.“Celebrating the holiday of Christmas is not the same thing as following Jesus, but Christmas draws people further down the path than you might realize.” — @WardrobeDoor Click To Tweet
Most Americans believe Christmas celebrates a historical event. More than 7 in 10 (72%) say the Jesus Christians believe in was born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. While the religious unaffiliated are the least likely to accept this as true, a third (33%) say this is the case.
These shared beliefs provide a foundation for moving someone beyond Jesus’s manger to His cross and empty tomb. There are two areas related to Christmas that Christians can help their non-Christian friends better understand to provide pathways to the gospel.
Knowing the Christmas story
Americans celebrate Christmas and believe Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but they may not be able to give you more than that.
Slightly less than 1 in 4 (22%) say they can tell all of the biblical Christmas story accurately. Another 31% believe they could share it, but some details may be off. One in 4 (25%) believe they could only give a quick overview, and 17% say they couldn’t tell any of it.
Unsurprisingly, the religious unaffiliated (10%) are the least likely to believe they could retell the story completely accurately.
During this season, people are genuinely curious about Christmas and Jesus’ birth. Take opportunities to share the story and give important details that some may miss.“During this season, people are genuinely curious about Christmas and Jesus' birth. Take opportunities to share the story and give important details that some may miss.” — @WardrobeDoor Click To Tweet
Ask questions about how other people celebrate Christmas or even another winter holiday. Then share your beliefs, including the biblical narrative from Bethlehem.
Knowing why Jesus came
But even among those who believe Jesus was born in Bethlehem, some may not be able to tell you exactly why He came to earth and was born.
When given a list of seven options the Bible records Jesus giving as a reason for His coming, Americans weren’t very confident. Four of the reasons were accurate references to biblical quotes, but only one garnered significant support.
Half (51%) of Americans believe a biblical reason Jesus came to earth was to give his life for many (Mark 10:45). Fewer (31% each) believe Jesus came to give life in abundance (John 10:10) and testify to the truth (John 18:37). Just 9% say Jesus came to bring division rather than peace (Luke 12:51).
Among the wrong answers, 9% say Jesus came to be served, 8% to abolish the Old Testament law and prophets, and 8% to condemn sinners.
Those around us may happily celebrate a baby born in a manger 2,000 years ago but have no idea why that baby came and what He said and did in His life.“Those around us may happily celebrate a baby born in a manger 2,000 years ago but have no idea why that baby came and what He said and did in His life.” — @WardrobeDoor Click To Tweet
As we discuss Jesus coming as a baby, try to move others beyond Bethlehem. Help those around you better understand God the Son’s reasons for coming and God the Father’s motivations for sending.
Beginning with the manger can help open doors for conversations and give us the chance to help others better understand not only the Christmas story but the purpose and meaning behind Christmas.
This season gives us a foundation with many people around us on which we can build a gospel framework for them to recognize the significance of Christmas beyond all of the cultural trappings.
For permission to republish this article, contact Marissa Postell Sullivan.
Aaron is the senior writer at Lifeway Research.