Thursday, December 10, 2009

Keep Christ in Christmas, Really?

Something has been bothering me for a few years and I haven't known what to do about it. I finally figured it is time to put my thoughts on my corner of the world wide web. Here it is, are you ready for it? I am growing tired of hearing people talking about keeping Christ in Christmas. I know I am not supposed to say things like that. I get this sense that I am on the outside of this issue looking in at a lot of my friends of like faith. Sometimes I feel as if I should be wearing Merry Christmas buttons or posting Keep Christ in Christmas banners in my yard, or boycotting certain stores because they have begun using the phrase, "Happy Holidays" over "Merry Christmas".

It seems to me that we (Christians)are beginning to act as if a group of people,or retail stores, or media conglomerates could possibly overpower the greatest event in the history of mankind. Seriously? We are talking about the creator of heaven and earth, we are talking about God becoming flesh and dwelling among us. His story has survived so much more than a shift towards people saying, Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. The God I serve, the one I have dedicated my life to, is so much bigger than this stuff.

There are people all over the world being persecuted for their faith. Real persecution. They worship in "underground churches" because they risk imprisonment and/or death every time they gather as Christians. Scripture is clear that some believers will be persecuted, but I think we can hardly consider ourselves persecuted when the retail industry removes Merry Christmas from it's marketing campaign.

I have had the song "Prepare the Way" by Charlie Hall repeatedly playing while constructing this blog. The words are powerful:

Prepare the way (2x)
Prepare the way of the Lord
Jesus... (repeated over and over)

You are the light of the world (3x)
Jesus...(repeated over and over)

You are the King of the earth (3x)
Jesus... (repeated over and over)

You are the light of the world- This is the Jesus I know and love. The one that brings the light of hope into the darkness of our hearts. The one that invites us to take his light into the darkest of dark places.

You are the King of the Earth- the One who was sent to two young parents, born in a dusty barn and laid in a feeding trough. The opposite of what the Jews hoped for in a Messiah, but the most influential and controversial baby ever born. History itself is divided into the time before his arrival and after his death. He is the king of the earth.

I think we can become so defensive or fearful or near sighted that we miss a huge opportunity during this season. What if instead of worrying about which stores say Happy Holiday instead of Merry Christmas, we fed the hungry, clothed the poor, made a difference in the life of the oppressed.

I have a 70 yr. old Facebook Friend that has recently posted several comments that get at the heart how we can keep Christ in Christmas. Here are a few:
  • Keep Christ in Christmas by making Him Number 1 in your life.

  • Keep Christ in Christmas by preparing for His Second Coming!

  • Keep Christ in Christmas by giving to the poor and needy.Show all

  • Keep Christ in Christmas by desiring His Presence more than presents!

  • "Keep Christ in Christmas by loving Him with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength; and your neighbor as yourself."

I love it. This is how we keep Christ in Christmas. We allow Him to continue to transform our hearts and lives (like we can separate the two). The transformation is lived out by living a selfless, gracious life, instead of one focused on ourselves.

The only way Christ and Christmas will ever by separated is if every Christian on the face of the earth drops the ball. When our lives begin to reflect words like, transforming, giving, loving, accepting, we will have begun to prepare the way for God to work in us and through us. That my friends is what it means to keep Christ in Christmas.
  • So, I will not be wearing buttons that say, "keep Christ in Christmas", I will be living it out.
  • I will not be defensive and boycott stores, I will look for ways I can provide for folks in need , and in doing so will be keeping Christ in Christmas.
  • I will not be telling everyone I meet "Merry Christmas" as a way of making a religious point. I will allow God to continue to transform my heart, and folks will be able to see that there is more than holiday cheer in my heart.
So maybe in the end we really do agree about the need to keep Christ in Christmas. Perhaps I am not growing tired of hearing we need to keep Christ in Christmas. The difference comes in how we do this...

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