It’s that wonderful time of the year again–the Christmas season. But unfortunately, along with the fresh snow, smell of baked goods, time spent with family and friends, and joyous holiday memories in the making, this time of the year also comes with an unavoidable annoyance. No, not fruitcake. I’m referring to all the keep Christ in Christmas campaigns with their bumper stickers and yard signs, and it’s Ok to wish me a Merry Christmas car magnets and buttons.
Do I have a problem with Christ being remembered as the reason Christians celebrate Christmas? Absolutely not. Am I happy with the removal of Christ from the very holiday that’s supposed to be celebrating His birth? No way. Do I think the secularization of Christmas is a positive trend? Certainly not. Am I pleased with the mass consumerism that Christmas has become? Never. Is this post about whether or not Christians should even celebrate Christmas? Nope.
This post is about my issue with the yearly keep Christ in Christmas campaigns accompanied with all their recommended boycotts of stores that choose “Happy Holidays” over “Merry Christmas.” My issue with these campaigns, however, is not in the substance of their arguments (stopping the expunging of Jesus Christ from Christmas), but my issue is in their misapplied efforts to correct what they deem as a sin almost equivalent to Judas’ betrayal of Christ. These folks with the best of intentions have grossly misdiagnosed the problem: It’s not them (the world), it’s us (the church).
Before I continue I want to acknowledge that it’s true, Christmas’ origins aren’t even Christian and most of the Christmas traditions we cherish today (Christmas trees, candy canes, tinsel, bulbs, stockings, mistletoe, yule logs, eggnog, etc.) cannot be supported by Scripture. Although I understand that there are many who want to argue against Christmas on those points, this is not what this post is about. The basis of this post can be summed up by these two points:
1. – Many of the most vocal opponents of the secularization of Christmas make nary a peep all year long to the secularization taking place within the church itself.
2. – These same folks fail to recognize that the true source of the removal of Christ from Christmas is only a result of the removal of Christ from our culture due to the removal of Christ from our churches; something that began a long time ago (long before secular retailers opted for “Happy Holidays” over “Merry Christmas”).
The secularization of Christmas is just a visible sore caused by the underlying affects of a cancer that’s ravaging the church. Trying to “save Christmas” while the bigger issue looms over us is like baling out a sinking boat with a thimble or putting a band-aid on a bullet wound. Your efforts may make you look busy and cause you to feel that you’re doing some good, but in reality they’re both just a waste of time against the tidal wave of the inevitable. Additionally, your efforts also adversely serve as a diversion from the real problem.
I am convinced that the efforts of these social-conscious Christians is not only futile, but distracting. You only hear from these Christians around the Christmas season bemoaning the secularization of the holiday while they remain passive to the secularization that’s crept into their churches all year long with its deadly poisons of lukewarmness and rank heresy.
So what’s my solution? Am I complaining just to complain and be a Scrooge? Not this time.
My recommendation is that first, these seasonal activists recognize that the world is acting like the world. We wouldn’t expect a goldfish to act like a tiger, so why do we expect unregenerate sinners to act like Christians during Christmas time, or at any other time for that matter?
Those of the flesh are hostile toward God. Forcing them to keep Christ in Christmas accomplishes nothing but provides them with a false sense of religious security: “But God, I went to church every Christmas.”
Secondly, stop holding Target, Starbucks, Wal-Mart, and GAP responsible for the spiritual stagnation of your community, church, and family, and start holding your pastors responsible! When your pastor preaches cutesy little candy-coated, Osteenesque-type, esteem-building, Christ-less lectures about your best life now, protest that!
Finally, teach your children the true meaning of why we celebrate Christmas. Emphasize the real reason Christ stepped from Heaven to be born among men. Be faithful to your calling as parents to teach your children the faith, and don’t abdicate that responsibility to some biblically illiterate youth pastor.
Never let your kids for one moment think that the real story of Christ’s incarnation is about anything other than Christ and Him crucified. The whole point of Christ’s birth was not for gift exchanges and office parties, it was about God making Him who knew no sin to become sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
So here’s my question: If these proponents of keeping Christ in Christmas prevailed today, and everybody put Christ back in Christmas tomorrow, in the realm of eternity, what will they have actually accomplished? Would they have not successfully created a throng of hypocrites who honor God with their lips but whose hearts are far from Him?
Continuing to bemoan the absence of Christ from Christmas while remaining quiet on the absence of Christ in our pulpits is like complaining about the smoke burning your eyes while your house is burning down with your family trapped inside.
Have a Merry Christmas.