Over the past couple of decades, there’s been great concern about the “war on Christmas.” Everyone has been up in arms over “holiday” trees, saying “happy holidays,” and various other ambiguous terminology. Political correctness has run amuck, they say.
I’ll admit some of it bothers me too. In fact, some of the extremes are downright ridiculous. I mean, are we going to carry these changes across the board? What about Santa Claus? That’s a Christian term. Are we going to start calling the Menorah a “holiday candelabra”? Jesus Christ the “celebratory infant”? What about the word holiday itself? I mean, “HOLY” day? There seems to be no end to this.
But let’s be honest. We’ve been headed here for years. The “war” on Christmas is indicative of the direction our society has been slowly progressing. This is the fruit of a deeper root problem.
I recall seeing some time ago, an informal street poll asking children what Christmas meant to them. Nearly every one of them immediately said, “Santa” or “Gifts.” Hardly any associated it with Jesus or anything remotely Christian. Now before you write me off as a “Santa = Satan” nut, you have to admit that the trend is disturbing.
The secularization of Christmas began long ago. That’s why I have had mixed emotions about the backlash against it. I’ve often wondered if the envelope finally got pushed far enough, people might realize the deeper issue. Maybe then something productive would be done about the root problem.
But I fear it hasn’t. Instead of fighting for the heart of Christmas, we’ve busied ourselves skirmishing over its skin. I am disturbed that some people think they have “kept Christ in Christmas” simply by singing Silent Night, decorating a Christmas tree, or shouting Merry Christmas at a sales clerk. I recently heard of a family that wanted to make sure they “stayed focused on the real meaning of Christmas.” Their solution? Give their children ONLY 3 gifts this year. (In honor of the 3 Wisemen, of course.) Wow! That’ll teach ’em! This kind of stuff is just as empty as those who try to ignore Him.
Now the word is that the “war on Christmas has been won.” Though most of us never stopped and were never restricted to start with, we’re told we can say “Merry Christmas” again!
But has it really? If you want to get rid of a tree, you don’t rake the leaves, you chop the trunk. The external issues are just symptomatic of a much deeper problem, and these roots still run deep.
According to legend Satan and his demons were having a Christmas party. As the demonic guests were departing, one grinned and said to Satan, “Merry Christmas, your majesty.” At that, Satan replied with a growl, “Yes, keep it merry. If they ever get serious about it, we’ll all be in trouble.”
The real problem is that even when we call it a Christmas tree, sing Christmas carols, give Christmas cards, and eat Christmas candy, we still may not be serious about Christmas. It is the birth of the SON OF GOD. It is “God and sinner reconciled.” It is the hope of salvation.
This task falls to those who put their faith in Christ. Can we honestly expect the retailers to do it? No. Their job is to make money. How can we then fault them for catering to the material appetites of their customers? Can we expect the children? No, not on their own. Any child (and most adults) will be more excited about unwrapping their new gaming system than the soteriological impact of the incarnation. We certainly cannot and should not expect those of other faiths to do so.
It’s time Christians take the responsibility to make Christmas about the Gospel once again. After all, the “good news” the angels sang of was the “Gospel.”
Let’s get serious about it. Share the love of Jesus with a stranger. Support missions around the world. Serve the needy in your neighborhood. Give the gift of the Gospel. Let’s chop on the trunk rather than pull off a few twigs. The real Spirit of Christmas must be in our hearts as well as our actions.