"The most wonderful time of the year" is one great lyric that describes the Christmas season. Here at Bridge Church we do not secularize the traditions that we have held for centuries concerning the birth of Christ. While we may celebrate his Nativity each December with all kinds of traditions, we actually celebrate his coming to earth all year round! While we may celebrate his Resurrection each Spring with our Easter traditions, we actually celebrate the Resurrection each Sunday of the year! These national holidays are times when this country recognizes its religious heritage. I am glad that there are still so many who pay tribute to Christ at these special times.
Yet, as December 25th approaches, we are reminded that we live in an increasingly hostile environment when it comes to the celebration of Jesus' birthday. It has become potentially offensive to even wish someone a Merry Christmas, or refer to the brilliantly decorated tree downtown as a Christmas tree, rather than the new politically correct term "holiday tree".
It is funny how no one tries to call Abraham Lincoln's birthday "Log Cabin Day". We are not pressed to call George Washington's birthday "Powdered Wig Day", "Cherry Tree Day", or "Wooden Teeth Day". We have no problem recognizing Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday in recognition for his efforts for civil rights. Even Elvis' birthday draws no attempts to change it to some new name that leaves out his name such as "Rockabilly Day".
So why all the uneasiness among the secularists about Jesus Christ as a truly great human figure? Why is it becoming increasingly popular to secularize His birthday to the point that he virtually disappears? I think the answer may be in the fact that the name of Jesus Christ has real authority and power. His name draws one to either worship Him, or feel threatened by his claims. Even though there are those who have tried to deify some great men, (There is even an "Elvis Church" in Las Vegas where you can get married) the fact is nobody feels threatened by Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., or Elvis Presley. We all know that whoever they were, and whatever they did, they are all in their graves, and have no claim upon our lives in any spiritual way. Christ, on the other hand, claimed to be God in the flesh, Savior of the world, Judge of the world, and Coming King!
In a way it is a credit to the power of Christ that his name creates, at the same time, such adoration, worship and recognition as well as such scorn, spite, and resentment. If he were just another great teacher or just another good deed doer, his name would not be so offensive to the militant secularists. If he was only remembered for making some great contribution to mankind, but did not make his amazing claims to be the One before whom we must ALL stand one day to give account of our lives, modern America would not have a problem with calling it a Christmas tree, saying Merry Christmas, or having the celebration of His birthday be recognized in clear terms.
"The most wonderful time of the year" is indeed, upon us. The prophecies of God's prophets were fulfilled in Him and are still being fulfilled. The aged Simeon said, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against..." Simeon foretold that this Jesus would shake things up! He would elevate some and bring down others! He would have detractors, enemies!
While it may seem offensive to those of us who love and worship Christ to see the popular culture play games with the holiday that celebrates Jesus’ birth, in a way, it should affirm our faith in Him! Only a truly Holy God/Man could illicit such scorn from the unholy. Only a truly great man could threaten the small minded. Only One who was truly God in the flesh could bring out the best as well as the worst in fallen mankind. This was foretold, and we see it with our very eyes. This same dynamic was why he was crucified, why Christians were martyred, why the gospel is resisted, and why the current societal power brokers want to place Christ in the shadows of our culture.
For those who understand scripture, this present darkness makes the bright light of Bethlehem shine even brighter! Let's keep our witness clear. Let's make the most of the season as long as we have freedom to do so. Let's invite our friends, co-workers and neighbors to celebrate Jesus' birthday with us as we present the Christmas story through song, drama, worship and proclamation. Maybe some will see Christ in His true light, and be led to accept Him as Savior and Lord!
"Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time." Oswald Chambers
" Bees that have honey in their mouths have stings in their tails." French proverb
"The best way to succeed in life is to act on the advice we give to others." Unknown