Jim Denison shares how he was watching a Christmas musical, when the group did a rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine“ with the lyrics, “Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try. No hell below us, above us only sky. Imagine all the people living for today.”

“Imagine,” as a Christmas song, indicates how secular the holidays have become. According to Gallup, 95% of Americans celebrate Christmas, but only 51% describe the holiday as “strongly religious” for them. One in four American adults say December 25 is simply a cultural holiday, not a religious holy day. Only 49% of those who celebrate Christmas believe that the virgin birth is historically accurate. The fact is, if you don’t need a savior, then you don’t need Christmas.

How do we respond to the escalating secularity of the season? When Paul traveled to Rome to bring the gospel to Caesar, it was on a ship with the gods Castor and Pollux, the twin sons of Zeus, carved onto the bow. Such idolatry was anathema to the Jewish people, sailing on a ship dedicated to pagan gods. But Paul knew he had a higher purpose.

The Lord provided this avenue for Paul to accomplish the things of God. Paul often used pagan spiritual touch points to bring up the gospel. Through this secular strategy, the apostle reached far more people than if he limited his ministry to the sacred synagogue.
How would Paul approach the secularization of Christmas in our day? Many lost people do not know they are lost. Some folks who ignore Jesus at Christmas don’t know better. Maybe when people say “Happy Holidays,” we take it personally. Instead, let’s see it as a chance to direct the conversation to “Merry Christmas,” drawing them close with Christ’s compassion.

We can use holidays to teach spiritual truths. Martin Luther was the first to add lights to Christmas trees. He did so to point to Jesus as the light of the world. Holly wreaths, with their sharp leaves, represent the crown of thorns Jesus wore on the cross; their red berries symbolize His drops of blood. Evergreen wreaths signify eternal life in Him, a rebuttal to John Lennon’s “Imagine’” Let’s use this secularized Christmas season to bring Christ to our culture.

Rev. Dr. William Lewis