Yesterday was Christmas. And as much as the bulk of American Christian voices out there like to complain about how Christmas is suppressed and Christian values are in peril, I want to share a different angle. Namely this:
Christmas happened. That’s right! The “liberal media” didn’t get their way and destroy our celebration of Christ’s birth; the atheists didn’t burn down our manger scenes; and the pagans didn’t toilet paper our Christmas trees. Nobody marched into our churches and shut down our gatherings. No one was hauled away and tortured.
No one, that is, in our country at least. The most recent issue of Voice of the Martyrs Magazine (Christmas 2007) had a story about Iranian Christians in a secret meeting huddled around a chocolate birthday cake to celebrate Christ. In Iran, Christians are heavily persecuted and risk imprisonment, torture, and even death for their beliefs.
All over the world–in 51 different nations–Christianity is illegal. Christians in these hostile areas don’t waste their time with petty protests and boycotts. They just keep spreading the Gospel like wildfire. In fact, in the same magazine I just mentioned, it was reported that the lowest statistical conversion rate of people in Iran accepting the Gospel after hearing it is 70%! In countries like Iran, the Church faces a harsh, heartless government who is convinced that Christianity will undermine their rule. And they also face the Islamist extremists who hold the belief that “Christian pigs must be slaughtered.”
But in America, it seems our greatest threat is that Lowe’s is selling “Holiday Trees.” What a great wave of persecution it is that we are facing! And what’s this? The city won’t set up a nativity scene on their public land? We’re doomed! And, oh my! The restaurant we’re in will only play “Frosty the Snow Man” and “Rudolph.” What an assault on the Church!
I think not. To be honest, there are times when I wish there were more persecution in America. Then we would see more real Christians spreading the Gospel instead of spreading propaganda and aggravation. We would see Christians shining shamelessly for Christ rather than standing up glaringly for their religion’s posterity. It appears that America uses our “freedom of religion” as freedom to be religious.
So next year, America, feel free to boycott all the companies that don’t support Christmas. That’s your right. Feel free to write your city a heartfelt letter about how much you would like to have a nativity scene in front of City Hall. And by all means, crank up the volume on your favorite Christ-centered Christmas CD and roll down your windows (no matter how cold it is)! But don’t waste your time complaining! That’s against the Bible, and it is anti-Christ.
Philippians 2:14-16–Do EVERYTHING without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…(NIV, emphasis mine).
Jesus is not revealed when we become obnoxious protestors. He is revealed when we reveal Him! People won’t get saved because they see a nativity scene; but they will fall to their knees and repent if they start encountering the supernatural in our midst!
1 Corinthians 14:24,25–But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” (NIV).
What will you put more emphasis into in the coming year? Convincing the world to let you be a Christian, or convincing them that they should know Christ too? Is it more Biblical to ask God for the “gift of protesting” or the “gift of prophecy?” What will be your response?
I want to personally repent on behalf of my brothers and sisters in Christ who have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas. Not that Christ was born, but that He lives TODAY and His Spirit is alive TODAY because 2000 years ago He came to the earth, died on a cross, rose to life, and ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father! I don’t care how much you fight for the Christmas traditions to be maintained–if you’re not living in unity with Him today, you have absolutely nothing.
As much as Christmas is a time to come to terms with the miracles surrounding the physical birth of our Lord and all the prophecies that He fulfilled, it is also a time to recognize that He is still alive today and has given us His Holy Spirit. It’s more important that we reveal the current Christ than it is that we reveal the infant Christ. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t celebrate His birth; but it is to say that our complaining stands in direct opposition to His nature. It’s okay to stand up for your beliefs, but don’t try to take the speck of dust out of your brother’s eye until you’ve removed that big ugly plank from your own eye!
Until the American Church repents for all the complaining, angry letters, strife-building e-mails, and judgmental exclamations that we spread around like dung every Christmas, Jesus will remain hidden and persecuted by those who claim to support Him most: you and me. But if we will cease from these sinful reactions, turn our hearts toward God, and start walking in true Christianity, our words will be effective and our actions will have the power of God to back us up. Why would we settle for anything less?