Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Wars

It is December and like clockwork I hear all about some war on Christmas.  The battle cry of "Keep Christ in Christmas" can be heard all over.  This is a magical time of year of lawsuits against nativity scenes, Christmas trees being renamed holiday trees, and children being barred from singing about Christ in what were formerly known as Christmas programs.  It may sound like I am about to go on some rant about how each year the war on Christmas gets worse and worse etc and so on just like everyone else does.  That is not what I am saying at all.  For all of you who are shocked at the growing world hostility towards Christ and Christmas, I have one word for you: "Duh."

Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.  1 John 3:13 NKJV

I know, that was kind of harsh, but if you take your mind out of the popular idea being taught today about favor in the world and actually read your Bible, you would not be surprised by this at all.  The fact is that the world is supposed to hate us because the world hates Christ.  It is not the responsibility of atheists or other anti-Christian people to keep Christ in Christmas, it is our responsibility.  If we would spend as much time telling people about Jesus as we do complaining about people who don't, this so-called war may not even exist.  It frustrates me to no end that Christians sit around complaining about people who are not Christian not putting Christ in Christmas. 

My point is that if you want Christ in Christmas then put Him there!  Don't whine and grumble or give an angry "Merry Christmas" to a poor frazzled store clerk who wished you "Happy Holidays."  Do not get angry and rant on about atheists putting up billboards demeaning Christ and Christmas.  Do not write letters, hire a lawyer, make a public relations campaign, have a protests, boycott a store, or anything else in anger in response to the world who rejects Jesus.  Doing any of those things strips away any semblance of the true meaning of Christmas.  Just in case you forgot that meaning, let me refresh your memory.

Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. "  Luke 2:10-11 NKJV

Christmas is not about forcing an unsaved world to acknowledge Jesus to us but for us to share the love of Jesus with the unsaved world.  It is about good tidings of great joy for all people.  Again, it is for all people, whether or not they wished us a "Merry Christmas."   How do we respond then to a world that rejects Christ, even at Christmas?  How do we respond when our children are told not to sing about their savior in their secular school (of course the real question is why your child is in a secular school to begin with), some atheist group gets the town nativity scene discontinued, or when some store refuses to acknowledge Christ at Christmas?  The Bible answers that question for us.

"But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the [one] cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold [your] tunic either." Luke 6:27-29 NKJV

First of all, love them.  We must understand that Jesus died even for those who come against us.  If you do not believe me, then please read Acts and the story of Paul.  We should love them and in that love we should want them to be saved.  If we want them to be saved, even if they do terrible things to us (or even just rude) we are to do good things for them.  We need to forget the idea that its the responsibility of everyone else to put Christ in Christmas and start putting Him in Christmas ourselves.  We put Him in Christmas not by putting up a nativity scene, but by sharing the Gospel and the love of Jesus with everyone we meet, no matter how they treat us.  As for those who use us (like those "evil" stores that take our Christmas money but do not say Merry Christmas), we are not called to boycott them but to pray for them. If someone attacks, we do not attack back.  If someone takes, we offer even more. 

In other words, we do for others what Jesus has done for us. Let's face it, none us were born Christians.  Some of us were born into Christian families, but we all had to make a decision for Jesus at some point in our lives.  Without that decision, even those born into a church family would be destined for judgement as we are not saved because our family is saved.  We were all at one time an enemy of God living in rejection of the free gift of salvation offered through Jesus.  Even now, we still rely on the blood of Jesus as none of us lives without any sin.  Despite our failures and rejection and despite any nasty things we may have said about Jesus (or even those things we might say now out of anger), Jesus loved us enough to die for us.  The Bible says that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.  Just as Jesus reached out to us in our sin, so much we reach out to an unsaved and hostile world in its sin. 

We really need to get over the "keep Christ in Christmas" thing and just keep Christ in Christmas and not care what the rest of the world does.  Keeping Christ in Christmas is not about a clerk using the word Christ or a light-up plastic Jesus in some nativity scene, but it is in how we live our lives and reach out to the world.  One night, many years ago, that scene from Luke played out in real life.  Jesus did not come with a list of demands to force upon us under threats of death, but He came to die for us because we could not keep that list of demands known as the Law.  He came with a message of grace and forgiveness for all who would hear and accept.  We need to do the same.  We need to stop expecting the world to put Christ in Christmas and just bring Christ to them.  If we do not let the love and grace of Jesus shine through our lives then who are the ones really keeping Christ out of Christmas? 

[Let] your speech always [be] with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.  Colossians 4:6 NKJV

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