I have to confess, as Thanksgiving dinner drew to a close this year, all I could think about was the next holiday on my calendar. Undeniably my favorite holiday of the year, Christmas is the day that reminds me of what matters most. While this includes the hallmark staples of family, friends, and love for my fellow man; I, like most Christians, especially love this time of year because it brings to mind the birth of my Savior, Jesus Christ… or at least it should.
For many in America, however, December is about dollar signs. As an essential part of the highest grossing quarter of the year, it is no wonder that Christmas often symbolizes revenue rather than reflection. Indeed, retailers have every monetary reason to be focused on sales, rather than saviors, during the holiday season. Especially in retail, Christmastime sales will dictate not only budgets for the next fiscal year, but also hiring decisions and year- end bonus values as well.
Perhaps it is understandable, then, that retailers and corporations across America are attempting to target a broader customer-base by removing purely religious themes from their holiday decor. Instead, businesses (especially BIG businesses) are adopting non-descript winter/holiday branding throughout their marketing campaigns. After all, Christmas could be offensive and thus, to say “Merry Christmas” is to exclude everyone who does not share the same belief and so on and so forth (however, lest you think I am about to launch into a tirade and blame corporate America for being the proverbial root of all evil, I will point out that the erasure of Christ-themed imagery in retail is not the cause, but the effect of a broken society that now demands cultural equivalence while practicing the exact opposite).
In recent years, however, there seems to be renewed interest in “putting the Christ back in Christmas.” Frustrated Christians throughout the nation have *finally* begun to speak out against the increasing political correctness that governs marketing and holiday decisions in December. Christians argue that removing “Merry Christmas,” nativity scenes, Christmas hymns, and other Christian themes from the holiday trimmings is equally (and even purposefully) discriminatory against both the Protestant and the Catholic faith.
Now, I would love to say that the result of this long overdue rebuttal was that Christians went on to eloquently explain why Christ and Christmas cannot and should not be separated. It would also be wonderful to say that Christians began sharing the gospel message, while using logical arguments and reason to demonstrate that, rather than removing Christianity from the holiday Season, businesses should include Christian celebrations as part of the diverse traditions of humanity. Imagine if Christians even modeled the love that Jesus had for His neighbors in a society clamoring for cultural acceptance! The opportunity is RIGHT THERE!
Yet, I’m sorry to say, the “Christian” outcry that made media attention this holiday season was not a call to return to the Lord because he came to earth one Christmas day (andiscomingbacksomedaytoo!!!). Nor was it a message of GOOD NEWS to all mankind or a demonstration of love and grace befitting of the advent season. Nope. The media moment this holiday season was sadly not about spreading Christ’s love… it was about a red coffee cup. A cup. How depressing.
Why does an ombre coffee cup matter (*hint* it doesn’t)? Apparently because it didn’t look “Christmassy” enough. Not Christian-y, oh no, Christmassy. And yet, with seemingly righteous indignation some people began complaining about the “War on Christmas.” Quickly defenses were mounted and warnings of Christmas conspiracy spread like wildfire to the internet blogs and social media pages of concerned sheep. In the midst of calls for boycotting of certain shops and the clamor for a return to conservatism, there rose another voice.
A still, small voice that said “this way, I AM over here.”
You see, in the scuffle of defending our religious freedom (which is, of course, important), some of us have lost sight of what we should be “fighting” for. It’s not about coffee cups, diversity, freedom of speech, or even freedom of religion. Christmas has always been and will always be about Jesus.
You see, whether you believe in Him or not, the truth is that Jesus did come into this world as a baby to save humanity from their sin. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in the manger on the night he was born; but on the day He died on the cross, He paid the price for our true freedom. His story is one of hope for humanity and His birth was the cause for PEACE on earth. No more war. No more hate. No more attacking one another over different beliefs, opinions, ideas etc. Jesus died and saved us from all of it…. and that is something worth remembering.... that is a message worth spreading.
So this advent season, take off the boxing gloves. Sheath your iron swords and pick up the Word of God instead. We are Christ-followers and as such we are supposed to be a light in the world—not a picket line at a coffee shop. We need to defend our faith, but by speaking truth and sharing the gospel; not by calling for branding or holiday aesthetics to improve. Rather than demanding that other people respect our beliefs, we should be pointing those people in the direction of our Savior. After all, the Christmas story is just one chapter in the greatest love story that has ever been told— start telling it.