The town’s street lights are up, old cartoons are dominating prime time TV, and neighborhoods are littered with giant inflatables.
With the unofficial signs of the season in place, it’s no longer too early to say it’s Christmas time.
I really dig this time of year. I dig the lights. I dig holiday candy. I dig that most people seem to have a little extra happy going on when you talk to them. Heck, I even dig the buzz of an overcrowded mall and the creepy calendar kiosk guy. What does he do in the off-season, I wonder?
Of course this is also the time of year for something I absolutely hate.
It’s also the time of year when many Christians go on the warpath against any and all people who aren’t on the same page as them when it comes to Jesus’ birthday party.
Plenty of these folks seem to be marching around stores and restaurants just hoping some cashier or waiter drops a “Happy Holidays” on them so they can shove a fistful of “Merry Christmas” down his or her throat.
I’ve even heard preachers often brag about their refusal to acknowledge the Happy Holidayers as if they’ve taken some grand stand for Jesus by standing up to some 16-year-old with their own snarky version of, “let me show you the REAL way to celebrate the season, punk!”
It’s almost as if they expect a high five or chest bump for their victory, which by the way, it truly is their victory, not Jesus’.
Then of course many of them head home to decorate their homes with beautiful lights and ornaments, only to drop a “Keep the Christ in Christmas” campaign sign in front of it all, just so there is no doubt in their neighbors’ minds that they are doing Christmas the “right” way. (The signs rank right up there with those “We Still Pray!” bumper stickers on my obnoxious meter.)
I mean, God forbid anyone drive by and think that inflatable spinning Santa and singing penguins stemmed from anything less scripturally accurate portrayal of the virgin birth.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all about Jesus. I absolutely love the Christmas story and still get goose bumps thinking about the beauty of the nativity scene.
But I’ve never really got the war on Happy Holidays. I’ve never really understood why some Christians get so angry when non-Christians decide to do their own thing or when people who don’t believe that Jesus even existed, really don’t get the idea of celebrating his birthday.
I mean, I even remember a time when such folks were preaching that saying “X-mas” was an attempt to push Jesus out of the holiday altogether. Unfortunately those folks were ignorant of the fact “X” comes from the Greek letter Chi which is the first letter of the Greek word that translates to English as “Christ.” (For real, Google it.)
It’s almost as if we’re terrified that if Christmas isn’t clearly broadcast by all people as Jesus’ day, Jesus will disappear from our culture entirely, our churches will dry up, and we’ll all go the Hell.
I don’t get that fear. I don’t get the fear that if public schools and governments and all people don’t acknowledge Christmas as Jesus’ day, that somehow Christianity will die, or even suffer really.
The Bible says that the foundation of the church is the fact that Jesus was the Son of God and that even the gates of Hades won’t be able to destroy it, so I’m doubting “Holiday Break” is really going to make that big of a dint.
I also don’t get how blasting the “right” way to celebrate the season helps spread the message of Jesus’ love.
Now I can’t say it’s never happened, but in the hundreds of testimonies I’ve heard, not one ever started with, “well, I was working at Wal-Mart and told this guy Happy Holidays and it was when he snarked back, ‘no thank you, Merry Christmas’ that I really began to consider Jesus,” or “it was that time I saw that CHRISTmas sign that I really started reading the Bible.”
Maybe those have happened, but I’ve never heard them.
What I have heard though is the sighs of workers when they get reprimanded Christians for using Happy Holidays.
What I have heard is non-Christians’ anger over what they feel are Christians pitching a message of, “celebrate Jesus or get the crap out of our holiday.”
And what I have encountered is people who feel burned by this and who have become cautious of even befriend Christians as a result.
I’ve thought a lot about the war on Happy Holidays and I’ve begun to wonder if we Christians aren’t putting too much stock in Christmas all together.
Let’s be honest about it, Jesus never celebrated it and the celebration of Jesus’ birth is never mentioned in the Bible, so for all we know Peter and Paul could have very well went to their graves having never sung O’ Little Town of Bethlehem.
And most importantly, if we’re real honest with ourselves we’ll admit, a person can completely find salvation without having ever recognized December 25 as a special occasion at all. It’s completely possible for a Christmas-free Christian to exist.
Have we put too much stock into this day?
The most popular criticism of the “world” is that they have turned Christmas into something that it isn’t, but have we done the same thing?
Have we almost elevated a holiday into somewhat of a religious idol, something that we consciously or subconsciously project as something that must be treasured in order to be a real follower of Jesus?
Have we begun to treat this day as a sort of test to weed out believers from non-believer?
I hope not, because I freaking love Christmas and I really do think this time of year opens a lot of doors to talk to non-believers about Jesus.
But each season the war on Happy Holidays makes me wonder if we are using this holiday in the best way to spread the true message of Jesus.
But that’s just my thought on the topic and you have to do however you see fit.
Just keep in mind, the goal of Christianity isn’t to win the debate over Christmas, or anything else for that matter. The goal of Christianity is to win souls.
If we aren’t doing that, keeping the Christ in Christmas really doesn’t matter that much.