Every November I see it. Retail clerks say “Happy holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas”. Starbucks has solid red cups this year, rather than being adorned with anything reminiscent of traditional Christmas imagery. Christians are outraged. They want to boycott. How dare they remove CHRIST from CHRISTmas!! People post their encounters on Facebook and other social media outlets- how they ‘set that retail clerk straight’, refuse to purchase from stores that don’t acknowledge Christmas as a Christian holiday. Articles and memes are posted expressing the outrage of those who believe we should all be celebrating the birth of Christ. Because that’s how you show the love of Jesus, right?! I don’t think so. There are countless ways to celebrate the holiday season, and many varying religious practices that accompany those celebrations. Disagree, I don’t mind- but I believe that we should be embracing life, spreading joy, offering a warm and sincere smile- EVEN when someone says, *gasp* “Happy holidays (or Kwanzaa, or Chanukah…)!”
I am a Christian. I believe that God came to Earth in human form and was unjustly executed by his own people. I believe he rose from the dead. I am fully aware that it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make much sense to believe that all this complexity and order came from nothing, either. Wrapping our mind around eternal matters is difficult. I am not embarrassed about what I believe- but I am embarrassed by the regrettable moments in history of those who called themselves followers of Christ, and the attitudes of the modern day Christians who shake their fists of false piety, shaming others who don’t trumpet Western Christian beliefs. I believe Christianity should be marked by love. Jesus preached forgiveness, he healed, he included, he LOVED. I respect the guy. I want to be like him. Sadly, many people would not identify a Christian as being loving, but as being judgmental. Rude. Stand-offish. Why? What are we doing wrong?
Too many Christians at Christmas turn into big fat jerks (I turn into a big fat jerk at some point daily- I am in no way suggesting that perfection has been achieved). What I am suggesting is that NOBODY owns the holiday season. Treat everyone with dignity, respect, and love. This is the world. The world will act like the world, and fussy Christians surely won’t draw people into the love of Jesus when they wag their condescending finger and tell people how to ‘properly’ celebrate the season.
If you believe that Jesus is the ‘reason for the season’, then act like him- THAT is how you keep Christ in Christmas.
*Drawing by Ezra J. Engle