This is a post that’s sure to upset some folks, but it’s been on my mind for a while and I can’t shake it, so here goes.
It seems like each Christmas season, there’s a small war that ensues within a cross-section of the Christian sub-culture. This battle rages, at least in the minds of its enlistees, against the secular establishment which is actively plotting and conspiring to remove the biblical story of Jesus’ birth from Christmas, and replace it with consumerism, stories of the north pole, fantastic light displays, and other secular trappings. The funny thing about this particular battle, however, is that only one side is fighting.
You see, we live in a secular culture (yes, just look around, it’s not a “Christian country,” at least not in the Biblical sense), and most of that culture behaves in a secular way. Most people celebrate Christmas because their parents did, they like getting and giving gifts, and it’s fun to watch their kids get overcome with wonder and anticipation waiting to see what Santa will leave under the tree on Christmas morning. In the minds and hearts of most people today, their embrace of the secular Christmas narrative is not an active assault on Christianity, it’s just what makes sense to them. So when hard-core anti-Santa Christians militate against them, as though they’re part of a great conspiracy to remove Jesus from the manger, they simply relegate Christians to the loony bin category of out-of-touch irrelevance and go on with their lives.
The ironic thing about all this is that we are in a war. However, this war is fought in the spiritual realms (Ephesians 6:12). Our battle is not with Santa or shopping malls, it’s with the idolatry and arrogance in our own hearts. I think it’s interesting to watch how Jesus engaged his culture. He extended grace toward sinners and fought most ardently against those who sought to conform the culture to their religious ideals through external battles. Jesus knew that when men try to achieve spiritual revival through physical rules or prohibitions, they only get empty religion and hard hearts. But when you extend grace to the lost and meet them where they are, their hearts soften and the true message of God’s fierce love for them might win a hearing.
As members of Christ’s body, we seek and inhabit the kingdom of God which transcends culture and plants the love and grace of our savior in the hearts of His children across this globe. Let’s not waste our energy fighting battles that isolate us from the people Jesus has sent us to love. Let’s enter into our lost friends’ and families’ story, and shine the light of God’s love from our hearts. Jesus wants something far greater than less consumerism, fewer secular Christmas songs, and more people with nativity scenes in their front yards. He wants all men to be brought to an understanding of the deep sacrificial love of God that will bring their hearts fullness of joy, peace, and life (1 Tim 2:4). This Christmas season, let’s put down the weapons of hypocritical external conformity, and fight the fight of faith on the true battlefield – the battlefield of the heart.
“Joy to the world, the Lord is come…let every heart prepare him room.”