I love Christmas. It's always been my favorite holiday. Even times when I have struggled with its meaning and been heartbroken over the worldly influence seen among Christ followers, I have always found myself celebrating.
It seems in the last few years, the phrase "Merry Christmas" has become a hot topic. Stores have removed the phrase from merchandise only to add it back in the following season. People have been bothered and quite vocal when a business that sells coffee decided not to have holiday cups this year. You're going to want to put on your sarcastic ears for the next part: Oh, what an outrage...how dare a company that has never claimed to be Christian owned or operated not sell me something that is adorned with certain words that makes me feel better about the consumerism that dominates this time of year? Shouldn't the world be forced to understand just how important "Merry Christmas" is?
No! May it never be! Of course not!! The lost world should hear the message of Jesus and His gospel from Christians. In fact, Christians are commanded to share and be prepared to share what we believe and why we believe it. Jesus always addressed the lost differently than He addressed His followers and believers. The same fruit expected in the lives of believers is not expected from the lost. BUT, when Jesus addressed the lost during their conversions, He would tell them to go and sin no more. In other words, make changes. Be different because you are different. Be a light, a city on a hill. Jesus didn't address hypocrisy in non believers, but in those who claimed to be on His side but whose hearts were far from Him. This is because there is no hypocrisy in the lives of those who are still blinded to the Truth.
We are not to demand of the world to understand what we believe. We are to share with them what we believe and why. "Merry Christmas" should never be used as some battle cry, some self righteous banner to proudly wave. Is there anything wrong with "Merry Christmas"? Itself, no. Of course not. But anything that is neither inherently good nor evil can be used for either. Do I believe that Jesus, fully God and fully man entered this world to save us? YES! I want to cherish that belief and message. I want to celebrate it. I want to shout it. But only because I don't want to hide what I have and what I know. Not because I am right.
I fear that there are many waving the banner of ideals of Merry Christmas, the display of the 10 commandments, prayer in school, and the like that do not even truly understand the God behind these ideals. Sometimes it just feels good to wave a banner. May we, as Christians, not join in these battle cries. May we, instead, cry for those who are without understanding. May we weep for the lost and hurting. May we be on mission to share the gospel.
Please understand I am not disrespecting our right of free speech (in this country, for now). I am not disrespecting the battles, be they military or political, won by brave and sacrificial people so that we can have this freedom. There are times to fight for what we believe. But there should never be a time when Christians demand that the world conform and act like believers. That isn't possible and damage is done when we smugly capitalize the first 6 letters in Christmas, waving our banner. Yes, God is holy and deserving or our worship and praise and one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess but it won't be because they will be forced...it will be because they will be stripped bare and confronted with the very presence of holiness of God and there is only one thing to do in that situation. Yes, God deserves to be celebrated and His message spread. He deserves much more than capital letters. He is worthy of ALL glory! Our battle cry is Christ and Christ alone and that is because we are compelled to share His love, to scatter the seed of the Word, and work in His fields. How we do this will look slightly different in each believer's life because there are many parts to the body and unique callings and gifts.
So, let's keep on celebrating. Let's wear our shirts that say "Jesus is the Reason for the Season". If He is the reason for the season (and every breath that you take) then let Him be the reason you do everything (Colossians 3:17-24)! Let's hang our wreaths and, yes, our items that say "Merry Christmas". Turn up the radio when Oh, Holy Night comes on. Sing loud (unless it would scare the people with you, of course). Say "Merry Christmas" to loved ones and strangers alike. May we do these things with the same attitude shown when our very Creator lowered Himself, humbled Himself, and came to walk among us. He is the Mighty Conqueror and will one day fight and win the last battle and said, Himself, that there would be division and not peace for all (Luke 12:49-53). Yet, because He is perfect and almighty, He did not lessen His power or message by standing silent before His accusers (Matthew 26:63) or by lying in a manger. Neither is it possible for us to diminish His power by putting down any self righteous banner we hold on to.
Even as Christians we mess up. We betray our faith. We doubt God. We turn away. We become complacent. We deny and crucify the very God who came to save us. Personally, I am a mess. A mess that He is faithful to. He is patient with me. He is loving towards me. He loves me. He loves me too much to leave me the way I am and so He prompts me to change, to purge the ugliness in my heart so I can become more like Him and, in doing so, hopefully shine a little light in the darkness.