Some followers of Jesus spend a lot of time each holiday season waging the cultural war against a “Christ-less” Christmas. We find that Black Friday shopping, Santa’s elves and other holiday staples have little to do with observing the long commemorated birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. American culture seems to yield the awe and hope of the birth of the promised Messiah to a consumeristic, romanticized version of the holiday which tends to keep its distance from true Christian meaning. So we spend time and energy struggling to get Christmas in our culture back on it’s True North. We “defend the faith” by decorating with Nativity scenes, the star of Bethlehem, baby Jesus Christmas ornaments and creating social media rants. We are sure to say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays” to people when about town.
The cultural fight against a Christ-less Christmas is one the Church should think twice about fighting. It’s a great thing to want to attribute Christmas to our infant Savior. It’s a great thing to worship Jesus in the season which bears His calling and identity as Christ. Yet, I think our energies would be better spent devoting ourselves all the more to Christ this season instead of duking it out when our Starbucks peppermint mocha doesn’t come in a Christ-themed cup.
I think fuller devotion to Jesus this time of year is a better approach for many reasons. One thing we still have in our culture is the freedom to worship openly and passionately. We are not prohibited from publicly exhibiting our full devotion to Christ in worship, fellowship and ministry to others. Why not increase our focus on Christ, our prayer life and our service to others at Christmastime? We have nothing culturally stopping a robust devotion to Christ and service to others in this season. We must practice that devotion in the sight of a fading world
Another thing to consider is the mission Christ has given the Church. It is better for the world to witness the people of God worshipping Him in Spirit and truth. It is better for the world to be served from the love of Christ instilled in the Church versus telling the world we are spurned by them. The love of God is what makes Jesus Christ real to others. The love of Jesus must be tangible in His Church at Christmastime to fulfill the mission He’s given us.
Lastly, the good fight Christians are called to is a good fight of faith. We are not called to win the culture war. Our battle is not against people, their beliefs or observances during the holidays or at any time. Our battle is against a common enemy who’s desire is to keep us from a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This enemy is constantly working to distract the Church from the actual struggle to engage us in battles we cannot win. In Christ, the war is over, Satan has lost and our struggle is to keep the Gospel central and see others come to faith in Him.
Yes, Jesus certainly is the reason for the season. Our focus should be wholeheartedly living that way in the presence of a languishing world. This is peace and makes more sense than squaring off in cultural conflict with those who don’t believe, all in an effort convince them they should.