keeping Christ in Christmas...

Over the last several years, I have noticed a trend building momentum around the holidays regarding the word “Christmas”… and this year it has been especially rampant among my Facebook friends with regular statuses declaring their desire to keep CHRIST in CHRISTmas. Or bemoaning the insult of businesses not allowing employees to say “Merry Christmas”.  I even saw one status copied and pasted several times that said in essence, “I’m a Christian and if you don’t like it you can shove it” (I am using completely different words because I don’t want to point fingers at anyone in particular… but that was the idea of the post).

Is that what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus?  This God-man who walked this world in such humility and love that He got on bended knee before the very man that would betray Him and washed his feet? Consider that...Jesus knew that Judas would kiss his cheek and so doing begin the trek to the cross… the ultimate betrayal… a friend, a trusted disciple, a follower… and He washed his feet.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately, especially in light of the offense swirling around the use of the word “Christmas”.  Wondering what WOULD Jesus do this time of year?  Would His response be one of anger and indignation… or instead would it be one of… love? humility?

Perhaps if the people who were refusing to use the term CHRISTmas were CHRISTians I could see the concern. We ARE called to raise the banner in Jesus’ name. We ARE called to hold one another accountable to living lives sold out for Him. But the last time I checked, Wal-Mart isn’t a Christian organization.  

I just can’t escape the notion that us believers are expecting non-believers to act like… well… believers. We hold them to a standard they cannot possibly meet, because it’s a standard one can only achieve through the powerful in-workings of the Holy Spirit.  We want to demand that they use the term “Christmas” when, perhaps, they are NOT celebrating the birth of a Savior.

We are.

And so I wonder why we become so offended when those who do not have the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide them, behave as people who do not have the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide them?

I don’t wish to suggest that we as believers should never be offended. There are things that should cause a swell of emotion to rise up within us.  Even Jesus had His moment of righteous anger when He entered the temple to find business men turning the sacred ritual of sacrifice into a mockery with over-priced and sick animals. He got mad, and He cleared the temple. So there are things that should raise our hackles…
When we see people taking advantage of those who have nowhere to turn (like in those in the temple courts who had to have a sacrifice).

When we see children purchased into slavery and forced to work from sun-up to sun-down.

When 5,000,000 children a year die from malnutrition.

When there are families outside our own doors going without heat, water, gas because the economy turned and they could not keep up.

When countless unborn babies never see the light of day because truth and hope were not shared with their scared mothers.

When little girls are stolen into the dark world of the sex trade.

Those are things that should offend us, church. Those are the things that should cause a cry to well up within us on behalf of those who cannot cry out themselves.  But a business displaying “Happy Holidays” on its sign should not insight us to speak rudely to that business owner, belittling her choice of words and in so doing, alienating her from anything having to do with “the church”.  And that exact thing just happened in our own community.  Proverbs 19:11 tells us that “it is to a wise man’s glory to overlook an offense”. That’s the standard He has called us to… one of meeting people where they are and overlooking small offenses that could otherwise become obstacles between them and grace.

And so that begs the question… what does it really look like to keep CHRIST in CHRISTmas? Surely it doesn’t look like a Facebook status expressing our great offense at the use of the phrase “Happy Holidays”? Instead, would it not look more like a holiday season spent with CHRIST at the center of our heart, lives, minds? Our gaze steadily and ever on Him? Joy being our language as we talk to others this season? 

Meeting people with the same grace and love that Christ met us with.

Ministering to His heart by ministering to the people that He most often spoke of… the poor, the needy, the oppressed… the least of these.  Sponsoring a family through the Christmas Clearinghouse.  Buying livestock from World Vision’s Christmas catalog for a family overseas. Donating to Heart-to-Heart so they can meet the needs of frightened and overwhelmed mothers faced with a choice. Sponsoring a child through Touch a Life, offering him or her  a hope and a future out of the dark world of slavery.

Isn’t that what it would look like to keep CHRIST in CHRISTmas?

Wouldn’t it be about being set-apart from the crazy, materialistic thing Christmas in America has become? Remembering that it’s not our birthday after all! Don’t get me wrong, my kids will wake up to presents under the tree… I am not suggesting we skip Christmas altogether… but we can celebrate while maintaining focus on the One we ARE celebrating. Making it about Him. Making it about looking more like Him. Making it about loving His children. Making it about making Him known… and not by forcing others to share in our “Merry Christmas”, but by joining them in their “Happy Holidays” and then shining Jesus into their lives from there.

I hope that you hear my heart on this. I love the term “Merry Christmas”. I just don’t think we should expect the unbelieving world to have the same standards as we do, until of course we have met them in love and grace and it becomes the believing world.

I would ask that you at least contemplate this idea as we move through the rest of this holiday season. Instead of a fighting the Christmas Vendetta, let us start a revolution of love, being the LIGHT in the dark places rather than the voice of negativity. Let’s focus on things that are worthy of our frustration and anger, and through prayer and sacrifice raise up the banner of justice.  Let’s follow the path of the Holy Spirit in wooing this unbelieving world into wanting to know Him more.

And let’s truly keep CHRIST in CHRISTmas. 


Marti said...

This is so very true. Thank you for this. we all need to be reminded of this.

beautyintheashes said...

I could NOT agree more!