Once again, it’s time for the traditional “war on Christmas celebration” as various groups attempt to eradicate any hint of religion during the holiday season. From the removal of manger scenes to Times Square billboards that denounce Jesus, it becomes more and more direct and aggressive each year. Christian organizations voice their disapproval and go to court and try to reverse the direction of an increasing, anti-God culture. Religious groups believe they can win the war on Christmas with a war of words and fighting with whatever means they have available.
I’m certainly not suggesting Christians should not use whatever tools they have to combat the obvious attempt to remove Christ from Christmas. However, will this strategy work and is the combat against Christ the real issue?
Consider this: Most Christians only know the Jesus of history. They believe he lived, died, rose from a grave and can forgive sin. However, the reality that this Jesus is alive and can make a difference today is almost nonexistent. As the culture has become increasingly secular, so has the church. There is little difference in the lifestyles of those who say they believe in Jesus and that of an avowed atheist. For many, Sunday morning is a religious exercise in ritual and form but lacks any presence of the real Jesus. Positions of power and political agendas in the religious world have taken over the meek and lowly Jesus, as some believe the church is supposed to operate like a democratic republic. Adultery is rampant throughout churches, the percentage of porn use is increasing, sex is an obsession and drunkenness is normal. Corporate prayer meetings are only a memory and theological Cessationists have led us to believe miracles and spiritual gifts are a thing of the past. It’s no wonder approximately 80% of teenagers graduating from high school are leaving the church and not returning to this religious fiasco. And it’s no marvel there is a war on Christmas. Why wouldn’t an atheist group want to remove Christ from this season when Jesus is evidently no more than a religious relic as evidenced by an anemic Christian culture?
We will not win this war in the courts or with our words. As important as it is to defend religious liberty in America, a piece of paper that gives us temporary freedom will not permanently solve our deepest need. A scripture written 2000 years ago comes to mind:
“You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you to let you in on God’s master stroke, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified. I was unsure of how to go about this, and felt totally inadequate—I was scared to death, if you want the truth of it—and so nothing I said could have impressed you or anyone else. But the Message came through anyway. God’s Spirit and God’s power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God’s power, not to some fancy mental or emotional footwork by me or anyone else.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5, Message)*
The Apostle Paul, living in a culture, not that different from ours, made it clear he could not win the battle with words alone. He understood that unless Jesus was shown to be real, through the power of God, in the lives of Christ’s followers, it would be impossible to convince anyone of the claims of Christ. Stop making excuses. A lifestyle lived in relationship, not religion, is the only way to win the Christmas Combat. Let’s open up the gift of the real Jesus this Christmas and show our cities why this Jesus matters; not just for a shopping season but all year long.
“It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you.” 1 Peter 2:15**
*The Message (MSG) 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
**Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.