I’m a conscientious objector! Several folks have tried to enlist me in the culture wars and I am adamantly refusing. Some want to sign me up in defense of Christmas. They demand the right to say “Merry Christmas” and invoke the phrase of keeping Christ in Christmas. I must admit that I have never been reprimanded from uttering that particular phrase. My decision not to be drawn into this battle (Is it being stirred up by some Russian bot?) does not mean I will not honour Christ’s nativity, I will! I will do so by concerning myself with the things that I believe concern Him: the poor, justice, kindness etc. Commercialism, nostalgia, and other “isms” do not do homage to the ‘Light of the world who stepped down into darkness’. He came in humility and simplicity and I’d like to honour him in the same spirit.
The angels’ proclamation was one of peace. I will not be drawn into a conflict in the name of the Prince of Peace. Rather than defend my right against political correctness I want to seek winsome ways to engage others in a conversation about what they see as important. This listening then gives me permission to share (rather than impose) my beliefs. Such sharing is much more likely to be effective.
Jesus nativity is an important event in the reconciling humanity to God. I must not let this reconciling event be turned into a wedge to drive people apart. Such activity may, in the short term, feel like authentic Christianity, but in the long term is not at all Christ-like!
What if they (Russian bots?) held a war and no one showed up? I cannot sing or send cards, with integrity, invoking “Peace on Earth” while engaged in battles with others. Such activity may seem like standing for Christ but I don’t think they stand for what He stood for.
I am not advocating that we celebrate some kind of anemic ‘Holiday Season’. I want my personal witness, in word and deed to speak loudly of my allegiance to: Christ, his Kingdom, and his ways. Rather than legislating a bland cultural nod to the nativity, the Church would do better to incarnate the Word made flesh, so that the world has an opportunity to witness his glory, the glory of the only begotten Son full of grace and truth. This is much more challenging than merely ‘liking’ and ‘sharing’ a rant about holiday trees or keeping Christ in Christmas. That is way too easy to be the Way of Christ.
Paul reminds us that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood”. People are not our enemies. They are objects of our Father’s love. They are the focus of the reconciling work of Jesus. We partner with him not by further alienating our neighbours but by intentionally loving them, in word and deed. This Holiday Season gives us an opportunity ripe with possibilities if we use it positively rather than engaging in cultural warfare.
I look forward to reading your comments.