I’m about to step into dangerous waters here. But I must confess that I am having a bit of a reaction this Christmas season.
It’s amazing what we Christians will declare war over. For a year, or two, or three there has been a growing movement to “strike back” at those who are trying to take Christ out of Christmas by referring to this season as the Holidays or in the schools taking “Winter Break” plus any number of other real and/or imagined slights against our faith. Several big name Christian organizations are pushing hard for us not to let this continue. Christmas must be defended at all costs.
Now let me be the first to say that I love to wish folks Merry Christmas at this time of year. I’m one of those softies who even likes all the decorations and music in the mall. I know it’s way too commercialized but it’s also fun and, one must admit, there is usually a different feeling in the air when one is out in public this time of year.
There can certainly be no argument that I lack an understanding of the true meaning of Christmas. The true meaning of Christmas for me as a follower of Jesus Christ is that I am remembering and celebrating His birth (even though the Bible nowhere commands me to do so as it does His death).
Actually, what I am remembering and celebrating is His incarnation. God became a man in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. He laid aside His heavenly privileges for a time to condescend and take the form of a servant. He served all the way to the cross. This time of year helps me remember that God loved so much that He gave His Son and His Son loved so much that He came into the world to save lost sinful people like me. Yes, I do remember that all year but I love to be reminded in so many ways like I am at Christmas.
Back to my reaction. Here’s my problem: We are being encouraged to strike back at the poor cash register girl who, under orders from corporate, says to us, “Happy Holidays!” instead of, “Merry Christmas.” Now I ask you, is that the Christian thing to do?
As in all things Christian, the answer lies in the motive. If our hearts desire is for the person to whom we are speaking to have a truly wonderful Christmas or holiday season, then, with a smile of warmth and sincerity we say, “Merry Christmas!” But, should our motive be to “fight back” against the evil Christmas stealers, then perhaps we ought to reflect more on the spirit of the One whose birth we are celebrating. He taught us not to fight back. He taught us to love our neighbor as ourselves. He even taught us to love our enemies, e.g., Christmas thieves.
Here’s a heart check for us: Before you say Merry Christmas to anyone, ask yourself, “Do I really want this person to have a Merry Christmas? If so, say it with love. If not, if your heart is not right toward that person, don’t say anything until you can get alone with the Lord and say to Him, “Please forgive!”