What if Christians put the “merry” back into Christmas?
Christians must celebrate Christmas with kindness, not complaining. | Tomber Su/THE CHIMES
Last month, the perennial media coverage of the “War on Christmas” was ignited because of a viral video showing a Christian complaining about Starbucks’ new red cups, sans their traditional snowmen and snowflakes.
BECOMING THE SCROOGES OF CHRISTMAS
I do not know how many Christians in America were actually outraged about these cups or the supposed War on Christmas. I would guess it is a small minority. But if bloggers and media talking heads have something to gain from the controversy — and they do — then we should not be surprised that we have another Christmas listening to the shouts of the angry rather than the heralds of the angels; another Christmas where we are talking about the “war” when we should be talking about the wonder.
Christians who go to battle over Christmas being removed from coffee cups are themselves removing something significant from the meaning of Christ’s coming to earth — grace, love and kindness. In their fight to put “Christ” on every cup, sign and shopping bag, they are taking the “merry” out of it.
Do Christians want to be known as the scrooges who yell at the secular culture in this season of “joy to the world?” Would Jesus have demanded that his name be included on everything imaginable, alongside snowflakes and candy canes, for the duration of his birthday month? Jesus did not come to be served lattes that had his name on them. He came to serve, to give his life as a ransom for many as Mark 10:45 says.
THE HUMBLEST OF WAYS
Jesus arrived on earth in the humblest of ways — a fragile baby, born in a Bethlehem barn to an unwed teenage mom. He lived and died humbly, scorned and shamed on a cross. He loved and served people constantly, dining with and dignifying the sinners all around him, never holding on to the power and status that was rightfully his. What about the life of this man should lead his followers to adopt a combative and defensive posture in the month when we supposedly honor his birth?
Instead of defensiveness, what if Christians celebrated the Christmas season by leading with kindness? Rather than obsessing over keeping CHRISTmas on the marquees of schools and shopping malls, what if we championed the “merry” side of Merry Christmas, focusing on cheer, goodwill and grace instead of Grinch-like grouchiness?
Those who truly follow Jesus should be known because they love, not because they are loud. Our culture has enough outrage. Adopting a posture of kindness is a way for Christians to be countercultural in the way Jesus was: loving people his peers did not want him to love, praying for those who persecuted him. Jesus was not here to win a culture war on the battleground of consumerism; he was here to seek and save that which is lost. And he did it from a humble posture of service.
LOVING OUR ENEMIES
I believe kindness should be the posture of Christ’s followers, at Christmastime and at every other time. Kindness means loving our enemies, not demanding that they fly our flag or play our songs or serve tea in only Christian-friendly cups.
Kindness does not mean compromising on our core convictions; it should be the natural outgrowth of them. Love does not undermine truth; it substantiates it.
Christian kindness is not about being right; it is being the right kind of people. It is about giving all human beings the honor due them as beings made in the image of God. It is about smiling at people, embracing them, celebrating with them over long holiday dinners complete with Bing Crosby and eggnog.
Kindness is hospitality and merriment, laughter and fun — living and not just singing about “joy to the world.”