Is there a war on Christmas? If there is, is it also a war on Christians? If it is, is it a war on the Christian faith? Who are Christians at war against? What ammunition is being used against Christians? What ammunition are Christians supposed to use?
There is a cacophony of voices on TV, and social media telling Christians that we need to fight to keep Christ in Christmas. Do we? Or can we relax and enjoy this holiday season? Oops, Christmas season.
I don’t have all the answers to the questions I’ve asked, but I do have some thoughts that might help us win the war (if there is one), and enjoy celebrating the birth of our Savior.
First of all, I don’t think the Christian faith is under attack, at least not my faith. My faith is not placed in a holiday. My faith is not placed in traditions. My faith is not placed in the color or symbols on my coffee cups. My faith is not affected by the words that other people use to wish me a good day.
My faith is placed in Jesus Christ – the one and only Son of God, who left the glory of heaven and was born as a baby. He lived a perfect life, died on the cross, was resurrected on the third day and lives, exalted, in heaven. Nothing can alter that reality, the assurance or the eternality of the Gospel in which I place my faith.
“Once you are rooted in reality, nothing can shake you. If your faith is in experiences, anything that happens is likely to upset that faith. But nothing can ever change God or the reality of redemption. Base your faith on that, and you are as eternally secure as God Himself.” – Oswald Chambers
Are we out of line to insist that total strangers, store clerks, advertising agencies and retail giants say, “Merry Christmas,” when they greet us? Is this how we keep Christ in Christmas? Are we fighting a war with words or are we fighting a war of words? Does it matter?
“Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.” — 2 Timothy 2:14-16 (NIV)
Are we alienating possible future believers when we fight over words? What picture are we painting of Christians and of the God whom we serve by insisting on words? Are we inadvertently becoming the weapon of choice for the Evil One in his fight?
Trust me, I get it, I want to keep Christ in Christmas, and I want the celebration of our Savior’s birthday to have the honor that it deserves, but, seriously, are we helping or hurting our cause by fighting with the tools we’ve chosen. If it is a fight worth fighting, perhaps we need to fight differently.
Jesus overturned the money-changers in the temple, and yes, that was a holy and righteous anger – but is the anger that we direct at a sixteen-year-old barista, or an over-worked, underpaid single mom who checked us out at the grocery store and who failed to say the “magic words” truly holy and righteous?
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” — James 4:1-3 (NIV)
I’m not suggesting that we surrender Christmas, but I am suggesting that we fight differently than the world fights. Instead of getting angry with people who prefer to say “Happy Holidays”, why don’t we show love?
Is there a way to bring a moment of refreshment to the waiter who is serving you? What could we do to bring the sweet fragrance of Christ into the coffee shop? Shouldn’t the kindest words the retail clerk hears all day come from our mouths? And what if we smiled and meant it when we left them with the phrase “Have a Merry Christmas?”
We can fight to keep Christ in Christmas, but it doesn’t have to be ugly. Quite the opposite, I think it should be beautiful. We should leave a fragrance of life when we leave any shop, store or restaurant, rather than a stench of anger and self-righteousness. Could we take a few minutes to check our attitude before we demand that everyone else check theirs?
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” — 1 John 3:18
Could we win this “War on Christmas” if we fight with love? Our actions speak much louder than our words ever will. How will you demonstrate the love of Christ to everyone you meet this Christmas season?