It’s that time of the year again. The temperature has dropped, the lights have gone up, the caroling has begun, and now it’s almost time for us to wake up and open presents with our families from underneath the tree. It’s Christmas folks.
I’ll admit, I love this time of the year. It’s one that is usually accompanied by family gatherings, church services, and a general attitude of joy. It is, after all, the “most wonderful time of the year.” But deep within me, there is something that gnaws at my heart. There is a deep seated issue that I see prevalent in the church of America. The issue is Christmas itself. We’re doing it wrong.
Now this is not a post that is going to condemn Christmas, speaking out saying that it isn’t biblical and it is a pagan practice. While there is no command in scripture to have a day to observe the incarnation of Christ, if you want to you are more than welcome to partake. My problem with the situation is the fact that we are taking a day and saying that we’re celebrating the birth of Christ, God in the flesh, the Savior, and then turning around and making the day about something else entirely. There are 3 main problems that I observe when it comes to the practice of Christmas:
1.) Christmas is not a battleground.
Apparently, there is a war on Christmas. Go to your local Starbucks during the month of December and you will most likely hear this offensive and hateful saying, “Happy holidays!” (Gasp! Even worse, I hear that they have Satanic red coffee cups!) After hearing that dreaded phrase, you may hear a sharp and bitter retort that sounds something like this, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!” The retort probably comes from a bitter “evangelical” who is weary of his religious rights being “taken away” and now wants to prove a point and insists on being overly hostile to anyone who says happy holidays because if he does that, then he has done his part in the kingdom of God. Guys, saying Merry Christmas is not the gospel. Going out of your way to ensure that people say Merry Christmas, regardless of their religious beliefs, doesn’t make you an evangelist. It simply makes you a jerk. The gospel is already offensive to and exposes sin. Stop getting hung up on such things and start preaching the gospel.
2.) Christ back in Christmas? How about Christ back in Christians?
My wife read that statement to me from a post she saw on Facebook. I couldn’t agree more. We are so eager to make sure that Christ is on the forefront of the Christmas charge and we use Him as a main battering ram. But when December 26th comes around, everything changes. The same people who cry out for putting Christ back in Christmas are probably (more often than not) forsaking to put Christ in their everyday lives. We cannot scream and petition for our Christian holidays to be put on the main pedestal of society once or twice a year and then not differentiate from the world the other 364 days a year. Exalting Christ is not something that happens once a year. It is the sole purpose of our existence.
3.) Christmas on a Sunday.
This year, Christmas has presented a unique problem – it’s on a Sunday. When do we have church? Sunday. This brings up the dilemma: do we have church on Christmas or do we cancel? Now, personally, I believe that we should still have service on Christmas. Because when it comes down to it, Christmas is just another day of the year. BUT in cases such as the church that we attend, it is much more difficult to make that decision. Our church does not own it’s own building. They must rent out and set up every single Sunday and Wednesday. At the end of the year, they typically do not have the building due to the busy holiday season and therefore they do not have service at the end of the year. This year, Christmas falls on the last Sunday of the year. So they are not having service on Christmas day because it would be too difficult to relocate and communicate effectively. Which, I believe, is totally understandable. Now on the other hand, there are many churches who do own buildings and do not have to go through the troubles of set up and/or relocation. Now once again, this is personal opinion. You do not have to take my words as truth. But I believe that there’s too large of a ministry opportunity on Christmas for the churches who can be open to miss out on. My home church, for example, has a kitchen facility. Their building was once a fully operational sports bar (now it is a Christian cafe called Cafe Agape). Their plan on Christmas day is three-fold. They are going to open up early and provide a Christmas breakfast for people who are either homeless, can’t afford to make the meal, or are perhaps lonely due to the lack of family being around. Also, they are going to give out stockings full of toiletries and hygiene supplies. In doing all of this they are hoping that those they minister to will stay for the service and see Christ exalted among the church. I think that is fantastic. What better way to celebrate Christ than to show the love of Christ to those in need?
This Christmas, let’s start doing things right. Preach the gospel. Minister to those in need. Celebrate his birth on Christmas and when the next day comes, continue to celebrate Christ. Let it become a lifestyle. Merry Christmas.