We are all well aware that every year the world seems to be moving further and further away from the true spirit and meaning of Christmas, to the point where now it is considered politically incorrect to even use the word Christmas for fear that you might offend someone. Yet the holidays Hanukah, Kwanza and Ramadan don’t seem to bother many (and isn’t it funny that few in the world seem offended by Halloween, arguably the most pagan and even evil-rooted “holiday” of all?!). Now don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful that we live in a country where we can all worship freely and participate in any religious practice that we care to be a part of but lest we forget, this country was founded on Christian principles.
Frankly, I’m really not that surprised that people are offended by Christmas; in fact, these sentiments are Biblical. The apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:22-23 “For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness.” In addition, Peter, in 1 Peter 2:8 describes what an unbeliever thinks of Jesus when he writes, “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.”
We also know that things will only get worse for Christianity in the world. Consider what Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 and 13, “1But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these… 13But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
So is it any surprise that the world is trying to remove “Christ” from Christmas? Surely not, and in fact, they have done it with Easter as well. No longer is Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection celebrated, but rather the season of springtime and little bunnies. We have spring breaks, spring-flings and “renewal” parties.
Some would say, “Well let’s just do away with every kind of religious or pagan holiday. That way, nobody will be offended.” That might just seem like the ticket because really, when you think about it, does the Christian need the birth of Christ to be sanctioned by the government or retailers in order to celebrate it? Absolutely not; believers will always celebrate Christmas, even if the secular world doesn’t. Part of me even thinks that might be the better way because then we’d know we were celebrating Christmas for all of the right reasons. But of course that will never happen. Why? The almighty dollar. As much as people say they don’t want Christmas, it’s Christmas that fills the pockets and bank accounts of many. Christmas is big business and though they’ve changed the name from “Christmas” to “the Holidays,” it was really Christmas that started it all and keeps it all going. In recent years, I’ve even heard of some stores putting “Christmas” back in their sales plugs as opposed to “Holidays” because enough Christians raised a stink and threatened to boycott, the stores got scared. So basically, the dollar wins out in the end.
So what’s a Christian to do with all of this? Boycott the stores that say “holiday sale” versus “Christmas sale?” You could, but then you also might want to stop renting videos at your local video store because they have rated R and X titles and you’ll probably never go into a convenience store again because of the pornographic magazines they sell, not to mention the liver destroying alcohol. You will also probably want to stay away from the supermarket because they sell products made by Kraft which is owned by cancer-causing cigarette giant Philip-Morris. Stay away from anything put out by Sony such as tv’s, cam-corders, DVD players and movies because they released the Di Vinci code, a movie that is blasphemous toward the word of God. Maybe we should just avoid all businesses owned by unbelievers or better yet, just avoid all unbelievers period? I hope you know I am being facetious now to make a point – the point being, where do you draw the line? For most, this will be an area of conscience; being Biblically informed, you will have to decide for yourself where you land.
Here’s a few things to consider from God’s Word. The Bible tells us that we are not of this world (Jn. 17:16 – our true home is with Jesus in the kingdom of heaven) yet we know that we are to live in this world for the duration of our human lives. We’re to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matt. 13-14). How are we to do this if we become isolationists? The Bible doesn’t tell us to shun unbelievers and their businesses but that we should not “love the world nor the things in the world (Jn. 2:15).” Meaning, nothing in our lives should be more important to us than the Lord and bringing Him glory and anything that would usurp His priority in our lives would not be a good thing. In other words, when we start loving the things of the world more than God, then we’re in a very bad place.
But we will always be wheat among the tares for as long as we are here and God knows that we need to survive while in the world. That is, we need to work and support our families and go to stores to buy the necessities of life. For better or for worse, we have to live, work and function in the world. It just so happens that is largely an unbelieving world filled with the evidences of unbelief. Yet, we can’t expect unbelievers to act like believers; we can’t expect them to live by the godly standards set forth in Scripture. It’s just not going to happen.
Now you can boycott whomever and whatever you want and maybe you’ll even be able to convince some stores to put the word “Christmas” back into their advertising but until people’s hearts are filled with the gospel and they come into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, it will only be a temporary change; a band-aid that will only stay in place so long. Remember what Paul writes to Titus in Titus 1:15 “To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.”
True and lasting change only comes when someone repents and believes in the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. When this happens, they become a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), they put off the old self and with their minds renewed “put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth (Eph. 4:22-24),” living each day for the glory of God rather than for themselves (1 Cor. 10:31). What we can and should do is pray for their salvation. Then, and only then, can real change occur.
As believers, we need to be in a position where we can evangelize and show Christ to the unbelieving world; we need to be the salt of the earth and light of the world. But we’re not going to be able to do that if we don’t have some kind of interaction with the world, while at the same time being careful not to become so caught up in the things of the world. We are to follow the command of Paul to Timothy, “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:14-15).”
Offended this holiday season? Don’t be! The world is just behaving like the unbelieving world that it is. God knows what’s going on and He will certainly have His day. But in the meantime, enjoy the Christmas season in the most God-honoring way you know how and don’t be concerned with how the stores and people who hate God observe it (or don’t observe it, as the case may be!). Instead of worrying about what others do with Christmas, let the true spirit of Christ’s birth ring out loud and clear to you and yours. As Scrooge's nephew said to his uncle Scrooge in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, “And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good [the true spirit of Christmas], and I say God bless it!”
God bless us, everyone and merry Christmas!