Every Nation, Tribe, People and Language
It is God's desire that all nations and people come to know Him and be in relationship with Him. Unfortunately, the reality of walking with God that existed in the Garden was broken when Adam and Eve were tempted to trust their own reasoning and question God's goodness. In order to restore that relationship, God has expressed Himself in many different ways so that we can learn who He is and we can come to love and trust Him again.
One of the best places to start learning that, is with the first group of people God worked with-the people of Israel. When he first made us a nation at the Exodus event, He didn't just erase everything we knew about life and society. He didn't simply plant a totally new revelation unconnected to the reality we were familiar with. Instead, God took many things from the cultures around us that we were familiar with, that were neither good nor bad in themselves (circumcision, sacred mountains, temples, worship facing east, sacrifice, etc.) and He made them holy by reshaping them according to His character.
Some behaviors, like idol worship, he stopped. Also, we were not to oppress the stranger amongst us as the Egyptians had done to us. In that way we learned that God is not only the Holy One of Israel, but He is just and merciful to all.
So immorality and idolatry were to stop immediately, but cultural behaviors were reshaped. In that way, the Hebrew culture began to express God's character on the earth. Should we not expect the same when God is dealing with other nations as they are invited to join His kingdom in the New Covenant?
But what has this to do with Christmas?
Historically, birthdays were first celebrated in ancient Egypt to worship men who were considered gods. It was never part of Hebrew culture. But as societies changed over the years, many cultures (including the Jewish culture) adopted the practice of celebrating birthdays as a way of expressing the value and appreciation of a loved one. Despite its history, celebrating a birthday is not in itself something bad, and when we celebrate the birth of the Messiah, God uses this custom for His glory ... and for our good!
Christmas is a celebration of the world's cultures being reshaped by the Gospel.
We have a need to worship and people in all cultures express it, though often by idolizing things and people. But that worship ultimately leaves us empty. Only in relationship with our Creator God and Father, as it was in the Garden, do we find what our hearts are so hungry for. When we sanctify Jesus' name in worship and we glorify Him in our hearts, it is good for us. I rejoice when I see the cus-toms of different cultures celebrating the Redeemer of the world. Christmas is also a celebration of the world's cultures being reshaped by the Gospel.
....a great multitude from every nation, tribe, peoples and languages were standing before the throne ... crying, "Salvation belongs to our God and to the Lamb! Rev.7:9,10