This must be the season of confession. Last week, I was upfront about my man-crush on Tim Tebow. Today I have to confess to you that I have a little pet peeve regarding the “Keep Christ in Christmas” bumper stickers, church signs, and car magnets that seem to pop up this time of year.
Of course, they are a reaction to our culture’s growing tendency to refer to this as the holiday season. Boldly I say, count me as one follower of Christ who fully supports this trend culturally.
First, it IS the season of holidays. There’s Thanksgiving. And Hanukkah. Ramadan. Kwanzaa. Probably others of which I’m not aware. It seems the height of Christian arrogance to make everyone use our name for a certain time of the year. It dismisses others’ points of view. Whether or not we agree with their belief system, it does not put us in their good graces to have an open discussion about Christ. It creates defensiveness; and us-against-them which closes people off.
More importantly (in my estimation), do we really want the name Christmas associated with the consumerism and commercialism that runs rampant in our culture and amps up at this time of the year? Short answer: No. No, I don’t.
So if Wal-mart wants to call it a “Holiday Sale”, Best Buy wants to have a giant “Happy Holidays” sign on the front of the store, or the mall wants to promote “Winter Savings”, they can do it with my blessing. I am totally on board with that. In fact, I view it as a favor. One less battle I have to fight with those who argue Christmas is nothing more than gifts, parties, and shopping.
Rather than point catchy slogans at and creating guilt in people who do not follow Jesus, here is an idea for all of us about how to “keep Christ in Christmas”: love one another.
Jesus himself said that all men would know that we are his disciples if we love one another. Our missional love creates attractional followers.
Start now. Use this Christmas as a marking point to begin to intentionally seek out ways to demonstrate love. Then carry those demonstrations of love the whole year through.
It may start with developing love for yourself. It is impossible to love others if you first don’t love yourself. (Why? The Cliff’s Notes answer is that if you do not love yourself out of an identity in Christ, any demonstration of love will be a selfish demand for validation and worth. We can talk more about that later.) Look no further than Christmas for a reason to start to love yourself.
God became flesh because you are worth loving. He created you. He chose you in Christ. THAT’S the reason for the season, and that’s a big deal.
Once you start that lifelong process, be generous. Bless others, especially your enemies. Give to those who have need. Spend time with those who have no one. Get to know your neighbors. Actually listen when people talk to you. Slow your life down enough to notice all the needs around you. They are there; we all just maintain such a breakneck pace that we don’t realize needs are right next to us.
That’s how we can keep Christ in Christmas.