Every year at Christmas time it can feel like certain companies become Grinch’s and try to take the Christ out of Christmas. They switch to using phrases like “seasons greetings,” “Happy Holidays,” or just completely dismiss the celebrations.
On the other hand, I have heard well-intentioned Christians respond to a cashier’s “Happy Holidays,” with a loud and stern “Merry Christmas.” I’ve watched videos of Christians telling Starbucks employees that their name is “Merry Christmas” so the employee writes it on the cup and calls it our when their order is ready.
Those are all clever and they are technically responses, but is that the best that there is? Is that the best we have to offer to people in this season as believers?
First, let's not take ourselves too seriously.
In many cases it is not an attack on Christianity, but simply executives of various religions doing their best to manage an international brand with a diverse customer base. It’s not always about how they can hurt Christians, but more often about what will make the company money.
Next, let’s travel back in time a bit. Let’s go back to the time of Jesus’ birth – since that’s what Christmas is all about.
You remember the story of the Wisemen?
The Bible said that some wise men arrive in Jerusalem and asked King Herod, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2).
King Herod was deeply disturbed. He called together religious leaders to find out where the Messiah was supposed to be born.
Then, “Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he inquired from them the time when the star first appeared” (Matthew 2:7).
The Wisemen went on their way and were guided to the place where the child was born – they pursued Christ.
The Lord made it clear to them that they should not return to Herod and they were obedient. As a result, Herod took brutal – yet unsuccessful – action in an attempt to kill Christ.
Here’s the main point. In the face of Christ being persecuted, the Wisemen PURSUED CHRIST and WERE OBEDIENT.
I believe that the ones who are risking taking “Christ out of Christmas” are you and I, the Christians – because we risk shifting our focus off of Christ.
Today, I am not always obedient. Christ calls me to love – without conditions or expectations of return – but I don’t always live that. I often decide to “take over and rule my own life.
When I read the Christmas story, I wonder if I would have obeyed God or if I would have gone back to King Herod to give him a piece of my mind?
Are we more concerned with hurting the “King Herod’s” this Christmas, than we are with pursuing Christ? And being like Christ?
Pursue Christ this Christmas. We can put Christ back in Christmas by putting him back at the center of our own lives.
Pastor Zack Totten, our associate Pastor, said it this way, “Christmas started by God giving the gift of His Son as the Savior to the world and it continues as Christ followers continue to share the gift with others.”
It’s on you and I – the believers – to spread the message of LOVE and HOPE this Christmas. That is our responsibility.
For you and I, the JOY of Christmas means something totally different. Even trials should bring us JOY, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…” (James 1:2).
This Christmas people will attack the name of Christ and that will only steal our JOY - that will only take Christ out of Christmas - if we as Christians shift our focus from Christ and who he has he called us to be.
So this Christmas season, will you go on to Bethlehem to see Jesus, to bring him our best gifts? Will you love your neighbor? Will you make disciples? Or will we be too busy trying to take down the “King Herod’s”?