As I am preparing for our Christmas Eve service this season and I think on the 'reason for the season', I can't help but wonder if maybe we have missed the mark. Every year, at this time, there is a great war that rages on and each year it claims the time, energy and minds of millions. It loses the focus in which it tries so hard to keep and takes people captive into the age-old slavery of violence. What I am speaking of is the War of Christmas.
No sooner are our houses adorned with decorations and the malls filled with Christmas songs, do the weapons of war come out. Each year we see this cultural battle rage on with both sides bringing out their big guns and the average person is caught in the middle. You would think being inundated with Christmas consumerism would be the thing that would unsettle me most, but it isn't. It is the war campaigns attempting, from all sides, to make some hollow point, which is simply lost in the grenades being thrown and the gun fire over-head.
As a follower of Jesus the Messiah, I truly believe in keeping Christ at the centre of our minds and hearts during the Christmas season and all that Jesus coming to earth means for the cosmos. It was an event like no other and would change the very fabric of reality forever! But I fear that in all the propaganda tactics of 'Keeping Christ In Christmas' we have actually lost Christ in it all and His true purpose of coming... His reason for this season.
As a Christian, let me speak to my fellow followers of Christ. The so-called 'War on Christmas' is probably not the battleground we should be focused on (when the gift of hope, joy and love is so desperately needed in this season) and truthfully we are not being persecuted. Sure, each year there are billboards that come out attempting to make claims against Christmas, Christians and ultimately Christ (mainly from the Atheist community). This shouldn't surprise us and truthfully shouldn't shake us. But each year it seems to do just that and accomplishes its task.
Now don't get me wrong, I believe the hyper-political-correctness movement has probably done more damage than good. In the attempts of trying to be inclusive of differing beliefs and world-views (which is needed), we may have overshot our mark. As a Canadian, we hold great value in diversity and the value of people's ability to have the freedom of that diversity. This video speaks volumes in how hyper-political-correctness can actually dilute this diversity, especially around the Christmas season.
Furthermore, I realize, not everyone who says 'Keep Christ In Christmas' is making a public stand against something. I would assume, it is simply meant to be a reminder for themselves and their faith community to keep their eyes on Christ in the busy-ness of this season. But, there are definitely those that use this as a tool to remind those in their community the real reason for the season and for some as a response to those who would actually wish to strip Christmas of its original meaning. Though, I suspect that the intent is to be a witness and light to the world, for at least four reasons, I believe it misses the mark and is the opposite of the witness we are called to be and how we are to live it out.
1. IS THERE FREEDOM AND EQUALITY FOR ALL?
Living in a society that holds high value in freedom of speech, religion and life, and demonizes the idea of tyranny and oppression, we do a disservice by attempting to silence the views of those who disagree with us. And sadly, in many ways, this is exactly what is happening. If I am able to advocate on the street corner, public square or create a campaign that promotes my values and beliefs, I should not only allow for others to have the same freedoms but also be an advocate for those freedoms.
It seems quite narrow to fight for my right to pray, celebrate, worship and practice my beliefs and conviction without fear of persecution or censorship and not extend that same freedom to others. It is quite telling when we, as Christians, feel the need to fight for our right to propagate our message and when an opposing world-view does the same we cry foul and claim persecution. Worse, we protest this freedom to do so and not only create counter-campaigns but petitions to have the content we disagree with removed and banned. We may feel that we are defending truth, when in reality we are simply trying to legislate that truth. In so doing, we simply make a point and do not bring real life transforming change.
2. ARE WE SO INSECURE?
The compulsive need to constantly defend our views and attack those who oppose those views, in my humble opinion, only shows the insecurity we have in our confidence of our own world-view. If what we hold is true, why do we always feel the need to destroy any opposing view?
What this speaks to the world is that we are so insecure in our world-view that it is unable to stand to any scrutiny at all. This kind of faith is built on a house of cards that will instantly crumble when anything opposes it or a differing perspective is presented. If we have confidence in what we believe, we shouldn't need to be afraid of something that wishes to challenge it, but instead let it stand for the worth and truth that it is. Let us have confidence in our faith and focus on speaking life into the world and not have our attention drawn away by the need to put out every fire.
3. BUT WHAT ABOUT MY RIGHTS?
This goes back to the persecution complex we see so often from the warring spirit that claims their very rights are being attacked. At the core of it all is the false value of 'My Rights' and 'Entitlement' that permeates North America and has become a cancer in the Church today.
It is this same sentiment that has plagued the 'Christmas Cultural War' for years. By someone opposing my ideals of Christmas, they automatically are waging a war against my very rights.
First off, this is ludicrous to think that someone choosing to celebrate Christmas differently is automatically attacking us or trying to take away our rights. Putting a giant Santa in one's yard is not some kind of civil unrest towards Christmas and its core meaning. Honestly, I have seen so many people get defensive because others choose to focus on Santa during Christmas, or say Happy Holidays. We have not lost the right to celebrate Christmas as we please, but not everyone needs to celebrate it the same way as us. If anything, by forcing our world-view as public norm, we are the tyrants in this story.
I honestly wonder if it is simply change that has caused all this unrest. In a culture that is continuing to change from being primarily Christian focused to becoming more and more multicultural and inclusive to adapt to that ever-growing diversity of cultures and beliefs. Our personal traditions are no longer the norm, and honestly, no one likes change and so we react by claiming our very rights are being infringed upon.
Second, even if your rights were being infringed on, the very idea of rights and fighting for those rights seems counter of who Christ was in His very nature. Christ Himself gave up His rights for our sake and the redemption of His creation:
Your attitude should be the kind that was shown us by Jesus Christ, who, though he was God, did not demand and cling to his rights as God, but laid aside his mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. And he humbled himself even further, going so far as actually to die a criminal’s death on a cross.
Should we not have the "same attitude that Christ Jesus had"? Christ himself humbled himself and put His very rights and power aside for our sake, whom ultimately rejected Him. Before these powerful verses, Paul urges the Philippians to be like Christ and elevate others in love and think of them before themselves--putting the needs, rights and privileges of others above their own (Phil 2:3-4).
4. WHERE ARE THE PEACEMAKERS?
If you are a parent, you know what I mean when I say the most peaceful thing is watching your child sleep. Seeing them in their crib in the silence of the night, it almost seems as though all is well in the world.
It makes me wonder how Mary and Joseph must have felt watching their newborn child sleep. I would think they would have had similar thoughts and feelings while looking at Him and even more so for them, as Jesus was the embodiment of peace, come to earth.
In this season of busy-ness and unrest, turn your eyes to the one who is peace, brings peace and sets the captives free. This is something we can truly celebrate and deserving of all glory.
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. // Luke 2:14
Even if every other point above meant nothing, this whole debate and fighting seems to miss the very mission of Christ coming to earth. It is declared of Him that He comes in the most humblest of forms and comes with a mission of reconciliation and peace and in turn calls us to also be peace-keepers, not war-makers. What saddens me most about the battle cry of 'Keep Christ In Christmas', is not the idea of trying to keep our hearts and minds on Christ during this season, but the cultural war it continues to fuel year after year.
When peacemakers are so desperately needed, we too often find soldiers fighting a war that only takes more and more casualties. Of course, not all fall into this trap and I am encouraged to see many taking the position of a peacemaker in this world. But it is my hope this short post will make others think to do the same.
Is it possible that instead of us bringing love, hope and peace this season, we have instead been fuelling hate, fear and war? What if we lived our lives in the counter cultural way that Jesus did, returning hate with love? What if we put down our weapons of war and lived lives that laid down our rights and privileges for the sake of others and the mission of Christ in bringing real reconciliation and peace to the world this Christmas season?
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