Unless your head has been in the sand for the last few weeks, you've already heard the annual rumblings about the War on Christmas.
I too have wrestled with concerns about what seems to be a blatant attempt to wipe away the true meaning of the Christmas season. It seems that nothing is sacred anymore, that there is a group of people who are absolutely unwilling to acknowledge what this holiday is about.
And those people are Christians. The war on Christmas is not when people say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." It's not when cities refuse (or aren't allowed) to put up manger displays. It's not when people call Christmas Trees "Holiday Trees." That's all pretty dumb but it's not a war on Christmas. Only a simpleton would think that forcing someone to say words, regardless of whether or not they know what it means or why they're saying it, would constitute the proper observance of Christmas. No, it's not those who don't follow Jesus who are engaging on a war on Christmas. It's Christians. You & I, fellow believers, are the soldiers in the war on Christmas. How?
--When we refuse to live as we are called. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, right? And why did Jesus come? To guarantee a holiday where we go into debt to buy junk for our kids that they'll be tired of in two weeks? That's may be how we celebrate it, but that's not why Christ came to the earth. Jesus came to seek & save the lost. He came to save sinners from our sin, to adopt us into his family and radically transform us into his image. Philippians 3:16 tells us to live up to what we've already attained, i.e., to be who God has declared us to be in Christ. That's the point of Christmas, and so when we refuse to do this we are living in open defiance of the purpose of our salvation. I'd call an open rebellion against your rightful ruler an act of war, wouldn't you?
--When we refuse to commit to the local church. Many of us have this mountain man idea of Christianity. The local church is a place to stop in from time to time to get supplies, stock up on coffee & tobacco & sugar, then head back out to live on our own. The problem is the idea of doing Christianity on your own isn't an idea we find in the New Testament. Jesus died for individuals, but he also died for the church. In other words, he died for individuals so that they'd come together and make up the church. And when we refuse to commit ourselves to that local body--to submit to the leadership and to one another, to serve and be served, to give of our time and spiritual gifts and money and die to ourselves for the sake of others--we are rebelling against that for which Jesus died! If we refuse to commit to the local church we are living in open rebellion against our King--an act of war.
--When we refuse to share the gospel. Christ's birth was the beginning of international mission trips. Or maybe intergalactic trips. Or inter dimensional. Whatever. The point is that the one with the good news came to where those who needed it were and shared it with them. And just before he ascended back to heaven our King gave us marching orders: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." Jesus came to save sinners, then sent saved sinners to tell others sinners about how they can be saved. And that's been our calling ever since. If we refuse to share that gospel with others we are living in open rebellion against our King--an act of war.
The War on Christmas is a real thing--but we're fighting the wrong enemy. Let's stop expecting lost people to act like saved people. Let's don't demand that others treasure what we treasure. Instead, let's show them--by our lives and our words--the matchless glory of King Jesus. Instead of getting in a tizzy about someone not saying Merry Christmas, let's show them why Jesus is greater and more majestic and more wonderful and more beautiful than anything else in this world. Let's repent of our rebellion and recommit ourselves to being who Jesus has declared us to be, who he died to make us.
Now if anyone needs me, I'll be at Starbucks having some coffee.