Best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most joyous traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, but with respect for the religious persuasion of others who choose to practice their own religion as well as those who choose not to practice a religion at all.1
Yes, this is basically the way Christmas goes down these days. Tiptoeing around certain words or phrases that *might* offend people of differing religious and/or spiritual beliefs.
You know, the ones that don't believe or acknowledge that over 2000 years ago, the God of the universe wrapped Himself in human flesh and chose to enter this planet in the most vulnerable and unimaginable way possible...as a newborn child.
Don't misread me, I respect that people have differing beliefs and that everyone is made in the image of God. But somebody please help us put away the fear of offending folks and take on the attitude of the first people on earth that received the birth announcement:
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior-yes, the Messiah, the Lord-has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger."
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others-the armies of heaven-praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased."
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Let's go to Bethlehem! Let's see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds' story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them (Luke 2:8-20).
You need to understand that the first Christmas wasn't marked with trimmed trees, tinsel and tons of toys. It was a crude manger, the smell of animals, and a visit from a group of shepherds - who were basically the 'low life' guys of that day. In fact, because of their profession, shepherds weren't even allowed to worship in the Temple. Isn't that just like God? The guys who were "unworthy" to go to church were the ones God Himself chose to tell about the birth of His Son Jesus.
And did you catch how they responded? They 'told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.'
Guess what? That message was politically incorrect in that day as well. The Jews didn't expect their Messiah to be born in homeless conditions, much less be told about the birth of the Lord from shepherd. So they would have been offended.
And the Romans? To them, Caesar their king was 'god', so this news would have offended them as well.
And pretty much the rest of the Christmas story is the wonderful news about the God of the universe who loves us too much to live without us in eternity. He chose to be born so that He could die.
And that's the message that has boldly ticked off, upset, and generally disturbed people for 2000 years.
May I suggest that that this Christmas, Christ followers actually follow Christ, and let people know about the news that caused the armies of heaven to cry out in praise to God. Don't worry about whether or not it might peeve your peeps and pray for the possibility that your family and friends who haven't trusted in Jesus for salvation might receive the greatest gift in all eternity.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Head: What you need to know about this truth
Followers of Christ should make the most of the Christmas season by proclaiming the good news about Jesus, who came to earth to die for our sins and open a way to heaven.
Heart: What you need to feel about this truth
Is Christmas more about stress or about peace? If you are stressed, perhaps you are focused on the wrong things. The angels declared at that first Christmas that there would be 'peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased'. If you've trusted in Jesus as your only hope of salvation, you have peace available to you.
Hands: What you need to do about this truth
This Christmas season, start a conversation with your family and friends who don't know Jesus about why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.
Lane Palmer serves as a writer for Dare 2 Share Ministries (D2S) in Arvada, Colorado, a ministry committed to energizing and equipping teenagers to know, live, share and own their faith in Jesus. For more information about D2S, please visit www.dare2share.org.