So many of us Christians have accepted the notion that America, and the rest of the world for that matter, is doing Christmas wrong. It’s commercialized. It’s focused on idols. It’s centered on sin. It has lost its true meaning.
I wont argue with any of those statements. Christmas has become a non-believers holiday. A week ago, I went to a Christmas party and spoke to the host who revealed to me, “I’m a practicing Buddhist.” Lest I remind you, this woman was hosting a Christmas party. Not to mention, her home was like stepping into the Candy Cane Forest and several crosses hung from her walls. Needless to say, you don’t have to be a Christian to celebrate Christmas these days.
While many Christian and Republican activists have taken initiative to “get back to the roots of Christmas,” I’d like to propose that we stop the rhetoric and give up the fight over Christmas trees (or holiday trees; whatever floats your boat), Santa Clause, and nativity scenes. Instead, let us Christians celebrate Christmas the right way… every day of the year.
It occurred to me while running yesterday (the day after Christmas) that the Christmas of 2013 already seemed like mist. Life was back to its normal pace. I became unsettled to think that I’d have to wait another year to celebrate Christmas, a feeling that is not unfamiliar to most. The weeks leading up to Christmas always bring friendlier interactions around town, thought-provoking messages in church, the best music, and joy-filled gatherings with family–– all centered around the birth of this awesome guy Jesus. But December 26th hit and it’s over.
It doesn’t have to be this way. True followers of Jesus should be celebrating, pondering, and glorifying His birth (and life and death and resurrection) the whole year through. We don’t need the excuse of December 25th, which likely wasn’t even Jesus’s birthday, to enjoy the beauty that was our Savior’s birth. Everyday we should humble ourselves before God because He sent His son so that mess-ups like us can know Him. Even if it doesn’t seem natural, just try singing, “Gloria, in excelsis Deo!” (Glory to God in the Highest) every month of the year. In addition to our daily prayers and Bible studies and quiet times, just take a moment to be astonished by the complex and radical life of Christ and all its details every day. And celebrate: host a gathering or have a family meal in the name of Jesus’s miraculous birth more than once a year.
And if we’re doing this, we shouldn’t be too worried about Christmas time and how the world celebrates it. Naturally, they’re not going to mirror us. Certainly Christians should remember its origins, but to expect nonbelievers to genuinely honor the birth and life of Jesus is a ridiculous notion. Go ahead and put out your nativity, but don’t expect your atheist neighbors to experience the joy it brings you. And definitely don’t expect them to take down Santa and follow your lead or condemn them when they do not.
Personally, I see little wrong with Christians engaging in American holiday events–– Christmas parties, tree lightings, gingerbread house making–– so long as we do not do so in a spirit that negates God’s glory and makes Christmas an idol. Sitting on Santa’s lap isn’t a sin! But making Santa our god certainly is. Let’s face it, we do all these “pagan” Christmas activities anyways, so let’s stop acting as if we don’t enjoy them and expect the world to adopt our world views.
Remember, we are to be in this world but not of it; we are not to conform but be transformed (Romans 12:2)… So don’t you think this also means we can’t expect this world to conform to us? If we aren’t supposed to be of this world, why do we try to change it to make our lives more comfortable?
So, I’m sorry Fox News, just give up the fight. It doesn’t matter if the world wants to replace our Baby Jesus scenes with Santa in the mall or if the world wants to say “Happy Holidays!” We aren’t apart of the world! We can’t shape to our society, for it is shaped by a force (Satan) so much stronger than our arguments. We are just trying to make the world more comfortable so we have to resist conformity less, so we stand out as “those weird Christians” less. We also can’t force our meaning of Christmas on nonbelievers and expect them to understand. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to move in individuals… and unfortunately the majority will never submit to God’s mightiness. (That’s why we refer to evil as “the world” and not “the few.”)
So maybe I came off harsh. I know, I do that sometimes. All I’m saying is that Jesus was a really awesome guy and we should always be celebrating that. We should stop worrying about what the world does and “our rights” as Christians. Unfortunately, this world is ruled and judged by a maniacal master who doesn’t care about “our rights.” But, one day we’ll experience a Christmas with God like this earth has never seen!