Sunday, December 11, 2016

The season is more than just a phrase

The holiday season is in full swing. Christmas songs are playing on the radio. The stores and malls are decorated with garlands and trees. And the ads are begging you to buy the expensive gift for your special someone. I love this time of year especially now that my daughter is old enough to fully participate in decorating the tree and wrapping the presents. Even old enough to ask for specific gifts and talk about Santa (even though she really knows Santa is Daddy). This year I have been studying the Bible book by book and I’ve been thinking about many things that some Christians do that I think really shouldn’t be done.

First, harping over “Happy Holidays.” I’ve heard stories of people, very rudely, lecture “Merry Christmas” when a cashier has told them “Happy Holidays.” This attitude takes away from the meaning of the holiday. Yes, Christmas is Christ mass, a celebration of Jesus’ birth. However, it does not give Christians the right to bully others to say “Merry Christmas.” Yes, I said bully because that’s how I see it. Christmas isn’t the first holiday to be celebrated in the winter. The celebration of Christmas was moved to the winter solstice to encourage non-believers to convert to Christianity. Everything we love about Christmas has non-Christian origins. The Christmas tree was originally a Scandinavian tradition as it was thought to protect the home during the long dark winter. Even gift giving, originally a New Year’s Day tradition, was shifted to Christmas in the Victorian Age  when Queen Victoria gave her family gifts on Christmas Eve in 1850. So I’m not going to get snippy with a cashier for saying “Happy Holidays.” I’m going to reply “Thank you. You too.” Why? Because the cashier was pleasant enough to acknowledge the season and he or she doesn’t know if I’m Christian or Jewish, etc. I know why I celebrate Christmas and someone saying “Happy Holidays” to me doesn’t take away that reason.

Second, I think too many Christians are seasonal Christians at Christmas and Easter. As Christians, we should celebrate Jesus’ birth, as well as his death and resurrection, every day. To be thankful that I have Christ in my life every day. I wake up every morning knowing that Christ will be there to be my guide. And peace on earth and goodwill toward men should be practiced every day. While at Christmas time, I am more active to give to my fellow man in the form of physical gifts; however, every day I give the gift of my time. Every day when someone asks for my help, I will help. Even though I may grumble about the person needs my help again. I am reminded that Christ helps me when I absolutely don’t deserve it. I’m not saying that Christians should be a doormat and be taken advantage of. What I am saying is if someone truly needs your help, even time after time, reach out your hand and help. If it’s to help a tired new mom watch the baby as she takes a shower she desperately needs and wants, do so. If it’s to help the man with the car that constantly breaking down, do so. If it’s the friend who needs to talk at 1 am and you want to sleep, talk. We can show Christ’s love more in our actions than our words.

Lastly, many Christians forget that Christ told us that many will be invited but few will be chosen (Matthew 22:14). Don’t be surprised when your family and friends resist your message of salvation through Christ. Christ even warns us that His message will divide people (Luke 12:53). Jesus speaks of the four soils in Matthew 13:1-23 when the seed is thrown in different soils and not of all them take root. Just as His message will not take root in everyone’s hearts. We see the division that Jesus speaks about in the world today. Today Christianity is becoming the number one persecuted religion in the world. However, again do not be surprised at that. As Jesus warned about that. Matthew 5:11, Christ says “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” Also don’t forget that many evil things were done in the name of Christ either. Many people have read the message of Christ and perverted to their own means. Totally missed the message and used it to persecute others for their gain. Today’s true believers will have an uphill battle to show the world Christ’s love and message. Many non-believers will not let you forget about the atrocities done in Christ’s name. Keep in mind Matthew 5:11 when they spit back at you.

In conclusion, the holiday season is a time when we stop to reflect on the year past, to celebrate Christ’s birth and remember what’s more important. It’s not the gift but the person giving it. We need to stop nitpicking on the small details like Happy Holidays versus Merry Christmas and remember Christ’s message of salvation. Reach out with love as we spread Christ’s message. Be gentle but firm and remember that not all well receive His message. Remember the parable of the four soils and keep in mind that it may not be their time for the message to take hold if it does at all. So refrain from insults and name calling when someone rejects your message. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, may you and your family’s holiday season be filled with love, laughter and precious time together.