People often talk about the “spirit of Christmas” and discovering its “true meaning.” Just what is the true meaning of Christmas?

In our secularized culture, non-Christians have reinterpreted the “true meaning of Christmas” to be “good will toward men.” By that expression they mean that people should get along with one another, have good feelings toward one another, and be nice to one another. It is this humanistic interpretation of Christmas that is celebrated in such holiday films as It’s a Wonderful Life and White Christmas.

THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS- Human Longing for Love
Not to appreciate the human longing for love, happiness, and goodness expressed in these films would be dreadful indeed. Human beings, Christians and non-Christians alike, have a tremendous capacity for feeling, and Christmas brings that capacity to open expression with an intensity unmatched the rest of the year. Rather than condemning these expressions of human emotion, Christians ought to acknowledge them and feel free even to enjoy and participate in them.

THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS- The True Meaning of Christmas
But Christians should also recognize, and help non-Christians to see as well, that the true meaning of Christmas lies elsewhere. When the angels announcing Christ’s birth sang about “good will toward men” [Luke 2:14], they were not singing about people showing good will toward other people, but about God showing good will toward men. The point is that in Christmas God acted in a magnificent way to show goodness and love toward us. By becoming a human being, dying on the cross for our sins, and rising from the dead, Jesus Christ overcame for us sin and the grave. In short, Jesus was born to overcome the very things that left unchecked would destroy the human spirit of love, tenderness, and selflessness celebrated by secularists at Christmas. Because Jesus Christ came to earth in Bethlehem, it’s a wonderful life both now and forever for those who believe in Him and through Him experience God’s good will toward them. On the true meaning of Christmas, that’s the CRI perspective. I’m Hank Hanegraaff.