Every Christmas brings out the Conservative-Voice decrying how they’re losing their “freedom-of-speech” to publicly use the words “Christmas”, “Jesus”, “Nativity” and (worst of all!) “Christmas Tree”! Such “religious terminology” has been banned in schools, streets, government buildings and any place remotely public. But this particular “culture war” hasn’t taken my heart captive nor have I rushed out, signs painted with Christianeese, to picket our town’s courthouse. Not even our Target or Walmart.
My take on this “loss of freedom” is that nothing of any certain value is actually being “lost”. What is being “lost” is a perspective that celebrating Christmas (by no other name) is somehow helping to evangelize America. That the loss of traditional Christmas icons, symbols, carols, etc. are lending impetus to an increase of paganism and wickedness in this country.
Personally, I have a hunch that if any one factor actually is leading to an increase of paganism (which I don’t know if that even means anything), it’s Christians’ lifestyles. When Black Friday comes around after Thansgiving, many of the large, “box-stores” open early to admit crowds who’d arrive even hours before, wanting to be the first allowed to shop for those wonderful Christmas deals!
A few years ago, one sales clerk actually died under the feet of a mob of people battling their way into a store. Store employees and, subsequently, police and other emergency responders fought the mass of shoppers, trying to get to the clerk who’d been knocked down and trampled. They couldn’t even push their way into the struggling mass of shoppers who blindly continued to trample this young man underfoot until he died.
In those dozens of people, do you suppose any of them were Christians? That any of them were amongst those who called out for “Christ” to remain in “Christmas, for evergreen bushes to be called “Christmas Trees” instead of “Holiday Trees”, and sang carols at night in their neighborhoods?
Statistically, it’s more than likely that the crowd that trampled the shop clerk to death contained a goodly number of Christians. (Though not a number of goodly Christians…)
Shopping mobs aren’t the only place where Christians may fall short of their Master’s Lifestyle. In the five decades I’ve been involved with church-goers, I’ve rarely known anyone whose lifestyle stands out from the mob — gloriously shining with Christ’s true Light of Love. In fact, I’ve known a greater number of people who did not go to church who truly shone within their communities.
Mahatma Ghandi is famously reported to have said that he would have given Christianity more of a serious consideration if the Christians he’d known were anything like their Master. The best argument against Christians are Christians.
Being forbidden to promote Christian jargon about “Christmas Trees”, “Jesus — the Reason for the Season” and so forth is no barrier against bringing the Good News of Christ to our cities, our towns, and our neighborhoods. If Jesus is calling for anything from “His people”, it’s that they stop talking about religion and start manifesting Love in their daily actions, their relationships with others in the workplace, the stores, the communities.
The Bottom Line is this: Christians may be forbidden to publicly speak about Christ and Christmas — but they’re never stopped from publicly loving one another. And what will prove to the world the reality of Jesus Christ within Christian lives, is that they love one another.