Christmas; my most favorite holiday of all time. The time from Black Friday to Christmas is magical to me – yes, I believe the Christmas season starts after Thanksgiving, not after Halloween or earlier like some of you crazy people.
Houses are strung with white and colored lights, living rooms are graced with real or fake trees covered in garland and ornaments, and the atmosphere becomes warmer with cheer. My nighttime drives consist of being captivated by gardens of light and decoration; it reminds me of times when my mom would drive my brother and me home at night to see the lights. This holiday season always brings me a sense of childlike awe and wonder.
Christmas is a time of good tidings, joy, love, peace, friends, hot chocolate and apple cider, cold nights, ugly sweaters, and most importantly, baby Jesus, the Savior of the world. But for some of you, you believe that it’s a metaphorical time of war, hence today’s soapbox, this whole thing on the “War on Christmas.”
Christmas has been politicized and commercialized, but hardly revered or respected. Christmas is about Jesus, the perfect spotless Lamb and Son of God who takes away the sin of the world. He came to this world, born of a virgin, under the Law to redeem those under the Law (Galatians 4:4-5). He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). This is one of the greatest moments in the history of the world!
Prophecies spoken about His birth in the Old Testament have been fulfilled. Shepherds came to see Him. The Wise Men brought Him gifts that would declare him King (gold), Priest (frankincense), and Sacrifice (myrrh). He came to bring salvation to a desperately broken world. His coming would lead to the disciples, the miracles, the prophecies, His death and resurrection, and His Church.
But those thoughts seem to make their residence on the back burner.
You are fighting a needless war; this so-called war on Christmas. You’re ready to pick up pitchforks, Bibles, and keyboards whenever you hear someone on the news say that atheists, agnostics, etc., want to remove nativity scenes as well as the phrase “Merry Christmas” because they don’t want religion forced on them.
You become offended when companies don’t say Merry Christmas on their ads or products (remember Starbucks’ Red Cups?), but instead insist on other phrases like “Happy Holidays” or the archaic “Season’s Greetings.” You follow a list shown on some website or broadcasted by some news company and vow never to shop at the stores that say anything other than Merry Christmas unless they get their act together.
You praise people in the political sphere when they publicly mention the Christmas story (**cough cough** Donald Trump and Franklin Graham **cough cough**) or any other thing about Jesus and you want to make them heroes. Sometimes you are convinced that Jesus = Republican Party, but I think I’m going to save that for another day.
Your Christmas spirit is…well…a humbug. You let Satan steal your joy way too easily. Instead of showing kindness, you show vitriol. Instead of sweetness, you’re salty (and not in the biblical sense). You feel that everyone who doesn’t say Merry Christmas is in Satan’s army and must be vanquished. “To arms!” you shout from your seat as you attempt to fight at this perceived injustice, playing the persecution card.
Have we forgotten that those we see as our enemies, those whom we see as “Grinches” and “Scrooges” are also made in the image of God? That they are broken and also in need of a Savior, just like you? Instead of fighting evil with evil, we should combat evil with good. Is the fruit of the Spirit evident in your life, especially around this holiday season? Do others see your Spirit-filled love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control?
I want to touch on offense. Today, everyone has a reason to be offended; it’s almost like a status symbol. When someone tells us something we disagree with, we get offended. When someone hurts us with their words or actions, we get offended. We feel that we, the offended, are entitled to sulk, cry, scream, complain, whine, and hold on to hurt, even if it’s frivolous. Offense doesn’t discriminate, folks.
By the way, the people you call “snowflakes?” They’re also created in the image of God; He loves them as well. Are you getting offended over their being offended? Doesn’t that make you one too? God loves you, too.
You can’t control being offended, but you can control how you handle it. The worst way you can handle offense is being petty and passive-aggressive. These attitudes are venomous. Instead of confronting the person or belief head on, you hope they get the hint as you make your snide comments and try to get others on your team. You slowly drift away from them. May I remind you that divisions and factions are not of God (Galatians 5:20)?
A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle – Proverbs 18:19
A strong city is fortified thanks to its surrounding wall and security; no one’s entering that city regardless of your credentials or relationship to the city’s keeper. When a person is offended, they become like that strong city; they will deny you access to the complex inner parts of their lives, even potentially hurting you in the process. This is what happens when you offend someone or when someone offends you. Offense can kill a relationship before it even begins. It can dry up a relationship before it deepens.
Offense either forces you into isolation or gets you to live in an echo chamber, where common anger and resentment reside as others agree exactly with you on everything. Isolation and echo chambers will make you do stupid things.
How have you handled yourself this Christmas season? Were you offended because someone took offense to someone saying Merry Christmas? Did you feel offended when someone tried to push their perceived godless agenda on you? Did you consider them an enemy? Did you close off any hope of a friendship or relationship with them? Did you become that strong city? Were you passive-aggressive?
Look, people will disagree with you. That’s life. When you take it as an attack against your heart, that’s where the trouble begins.
If you have been hurt, chances are they either hurt you with intent, or they did not know they hurt you. Either way, bring it to them. Face them. Dialogue with them. Try to listen and understand each other. They may have acted out on their wounds or offenses. I may go deeper on this on another post.
Christmas is a time where we can come together and worship the Savior and introduce others to Him, not to challenge political correctness and getting trapped in commercialism.
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. – Proverbs 10:12
That’s how you break an offense, by loving one another as Christ loved and gave Himself for you. Passive-aggressiveness is not love. Strife is not love. Pettiness is definitely not love. Love tears down the walls. Love covers a multitude of sins. Do that, and see how your Christmas, as well as the rest of your life, will change. If you have been offended, forgive and let it go. Really search your mind and heart and confront the person who has hurt you and love them.
(If you have been offended through abuse, that’s going to take a lot of healing and finding trusted friends and counseling. Take it a day at a time.)
Christ came to earth for you.
He came to earth for your friends.
He came to earth for atheists.
He came to earth for thieves, idolaters, liars, adulterers, the immoral.
He came to earth for Hillary Clinton and those darn liberals and Democrats.
He came to earth for Donald Trump and those darn conservatives and Republicans.
He came to earth for those who wouldn’t even think of living for Him.
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end. – the angel Gabriel to Mary; Luke 1:31-33
I’m stepping off my soapbox. Until next time, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and remain hidden in the shadow of His wings.
– Jon Pannell