Friday, December 9, 2011

What If...?

It’s that time again, and we are constantly reading and hearing news reports about “The War on Christmas”. As followers of Christ, we know what Christmas is all about. We all know and regularly use the current religious clichés, ie. “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”, “Christmas begins with CHRIST”, and “Don’t take Christ out of Christmas!”

Many of us go out of our way to find Christmas cards with religious messages and depictions of Nativity Scenes, (complete with shepherds, wise men, barnyard animals, a big star, and Mary, Joseph and the Baby) or cards with singing Angels, or at least cards with depictions of quaint churches in little villages under a cover of snow. We make sure the inside message makes reference to Christmas (with words like “Peace” and “Joy” prominently displayed) rather than the secularly popular “Happy Holidays” or the most bland “Season’s Greetings”. The faithful among us eschew the very mention of a “Holiday Tree” and make sure that the trees that decorate our homes, and the public square are properly named, “Christmas Trees”. We’ll protest loudly or sign petitions if they are called anything but the proper nomenclature.

After all, this is “war”. Right?

Why should we be surprised by a “war on Christmas”? There has been one going on for centuries. The Enemy has done everything within his power to derail God’s eternal plan of redemption. The Old Testament gives several examples as to how Satan has used kings and nations to try to stamp out the Jewish people before “The Anointed One” could arrive through the Tribe of Judah and the lineage of King David. If he could short circuit the promise of the “protoevangelum” (Genesis 3:15) or nullify the Messianic promises given by God to Israel and Judah by ancient Hebrew prophets, perhaps he could continue to keep mankind enslaved to sin. But alas, the genocide against the Jewish people, by the likes of Pharaoh and Haman were overcome, and his other plans were to no avail.

Even after Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, the Enemy used Herod the Great to try to eradicate the Messiah by the slaughter of the infant boys under the age of two! Satan has been, and still is, serious about nullifying the message of Christmas.

I’m going to risk making some wonderful folks angry here, but let me advance a proposition this Christmas.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that we scrap the trees, garland, tinsel and holly, or any of the other trappings with which we are familiar. I certainly advocate the scriptural message for any greeting cards sent by Christ Followers. Nativity Scenes in our yards and in our homes should certainly hold a more prominent place than Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and the big guy in the red suit. “The true meaning of Christmas” most certainly should be taught to our children.

But what if we went beyond even that?

What if we weren’t so militant about demanding our rights to publicly celebrate Christmas?

What if we celebrated Christmas in a different way?

What if we REALLY believed that Christmas is the real prelude to Easter, and celebrated it as such?

What if we explained to our children that the tree in our living room should be a bold reminder of a tree that was once used to fashion an old rugged cross, where our Savior died as our substitute.

What if we used the red lights and bows and greenery to be reminded about the True Light who came to a sin darkened world? He shed His red blood on the cross of Calvary, and died as a sacrifice for our sins.

What if we let the familiar evergreen boughs of the tree serve as a reminder that Jesus is the author and the only source of eternal life?

What if we were not so focused on the Baby Jesus, but rather on the adult Jesus who taught with authority?

What if we focused on following His radical teachings, denied ourselves, took up our crosses daily and followed Him?

What if our actions would identify us as His followers?

What if we allowed Him to fill us with His Spirit and cultivate His Fruit in our lives?

What if the gifts we gave one another spoke more about God’s great gift to us?

What if we were more focused on His example, and we learned that it is more blessed to give than to receive?

What of others would know that we are Christians by the love that we have for one another?

What if we were not only grateful recipients of His Grace, but also active conduits of it?

What if we had the faith of a grain of Mustard seed?

What if we really were Salt and Light in the world?

What if we were more mindful of the spirit of giving, and shared more quickly with others what God has given us through Jesus?

What if we smiled and exchanged more cheery greetings with others like we often do at Christmas time?

What if we did more random acts of kindness, gave more food, clothing, and water to those in need, in the name of Jesus?

What if we were so transparent in our motives, speech, and actions that others could readily see Jesus in us?

What if we followed the marching orders He gave us, and took the message to every people group on Earth?

And what if we did all these things 365 days per year, and not just on December 25th?

Surely the true Spirit of Christmas, would be so prevalent in the lives of Christ’s Followers, that we would never have to concern ourselves with the “war on Christmas”.
Lives would be changed, eternity would be effected, and Satan’s influence would be nullified in the lives of those who hear and accept.

After all, the victory was completed in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, nearly 2000 years ago.

We know that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th. But we know that He WAS born, of a virgin, and we know the familiar story. However, the events surrounding Christmas many years ago in Bethlehem would be meaningless without the events of Passover week, centered around an execution site called Golgotha and a borrowed tomb that was only used for a portion of three days.

What if those “Good tidings of great joy” would be published to every people group, from around the corner to around the world?

It’s up to us.

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