Christmas in our Culture: Obstacle or Opportunity?

Credit: Bart Fields (Creative Commons)

It’s no secret that in our culture, Christmas is less about the birth of Jesus than it is about getting lots and lots of stuff. Oh, and that guy in the red suit. I’ve noticed that this ticks a lot of Christians off. Every year there are news stories about fighting over whether public property can house a nativity scene, or if a church can be entered into a city parade.

I understand that for some people (I would guess a very small percentage of the complainers), there is a righteous indignation. And there should be. To take the best news that the world has ever heard and turn it into a chance to get more stuff and turn a tidy profit sounds somewhat…familiar. And if I remember right, Jesus was not too happy about it when he saw it in his own day.

However, I’m very troubled that so many followers of Jesus view Christmas in our culture as an obstacle rather than an opportunity. We complain that there’s no CHRIST in Christmas anymore. We raise our voices at the fact that the Salvation Army–a Christian organization–can’t set up shop in a shopping mall to collect our nickels while we go and blow thousands of dollars–charged on the MasterCard, of course–on gifts our families really don’t need. We view Christmas as a fight to win, rather than an opportunity to share about Jesus with people who happily sing “The First Noel” every December, but who wouldn’t have anything to do with Jesus any other time of the year.

Yes, I do wish I could change what Christmas has become in our culture. But I’m having a hard enough time changing my own desires during this time, let alone those of everyone around me. So instead of fighting for a nativity scene at City Hall and seeing Christmas as an obstacle, how about we see it for what it is: a time when people are more open to hearing about who Jesus is, and a time when people whom we’ve never met–and who need to know Jesus–walk into the doors of our churches as our guests. And when we do get the blessing of meeting them, hopefully they will find us to be folks who are more interested in loving them as God has loved us than people who can’t pass up a good fight about Christmas.

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