I will never forget the Sunday at church in early December as we approached Christmas. In our gathering the song leader chastised the crowd for not knowing the true reason for Christmas and getting caught up in “Wal-Mart world.” Then, as soon as the service ended, they rushed into the nursery with panicked aggravation to fetch their children. I overheard an agitated, “We have to hurry, the stores are already open, and we have a lot of shopping to do.” For me, the use of the Sabbath for a grumpy afternoon of shopping seemed contrary to the words that had – just a few moments past – flowed off the platform.
It harkened me to a frustration I have at this time of year. Call it compartmentalization or just plain judgementalism, but I think many Christians misuse the opportunities of the season.
Using the season to attempt to convert the culture to the Gospel is not best done by being condescending to those who are trapped in a worldly interpretation of the season consumed by consumerism, false sentiments, and Santa.
Yes, I’d prefer a cheery, “Merry Christmas,” from the clerk at the store, but I realize the choice is not theirs to make. Management tells them to try and eliminate “Christ” from Christmas so as to not offend. Of course, the joke is on said manager. When they say, “Happy Holidays,” they are still acknowledging religious tradition – “Holidays” being an adaptation of “Holy-Days.” That poor clerk does not need to endure the ire and rudeness of one who demands the utterance of “Christmas.” I just say, “Thank you,” and reply with a hearty, “Merry Christmas” back to them.
On and on some folks wag their righteous fingers, chastising the “world” for failing to celebrate properly. Has anyone been attracted to the Gospel by anger? Has anyone warmed up to the saving grace of Jesus through condescension?
Perhaps there needs to be a great deal more show-and-tell in our season. If we really want the world to know the value of a life in relationship with the Savior, aren’t we better off living as Jesus desires instead of condemning those who don’t know any other way?
He may be the “reason for the season,” but He should be so much more than that; He is the Hope for any season. A consistent holy life on display throughout all seasons might – especially at Christmastime – have the world be drawn to the manger, not forced to see it through a veil of vile.