Yes, I purposely misspelled Christmas. I did that for two reasons: 1) to keep the copyright lawyers away, and 2) to make a point about the true meaning of Christmas.
Christmas is probably the most widely celebrated holiday there is. It is inescapable, and celebrants are found in almost every part of the world, and even outer space. Ironically, this holiday commemorates the birthday of the most widely ignored person on earth and in heaven, who is also inescapable.
One of the most popular, enduring, and best-loved Christmas specials is A Charlie Brown Christmas. It has been shown every year for over 40 years, and we never get tired of watching it. For being a TV show that almost never was, it has proven its value over the years and generations.
Network executives were hesitant about airing the special. Was it because it was a cartoon? Was it because of its low budget, amateur quality? Maybe the absence of a laugh track made it unattractive. Truth is, it was the inclusion of the biblical narrative of Christ's birth that almost sank Charles Schulz's masterpiece. But Schulz was adamant: "If we don't tell the true meaning of Christmas, who will?" Seems he was right.
Just like the church bells, sleigh bells, jingle bells, and almost-banned Salvation Army bells, the above story has a familiar ring to it. There is a war on Christmas these days, with politically correct zealots trying to change Christmas celebrations to winter or holiday or some other generic revelries. Anyone who refuses to celebrate Christmas or display a dozen inflatable Santas or join in any reindeer games is labeled as a Scrooge or Grinch or liberal. Yet, if a Christian tries to center on Christ, he or she is called a fanatic or Fundamentalist, party pooper or plaintiff. Go figure.
Please don't get the wrong idea. I do not countenance forcing my beliefs on anyone. That is not the Christian way. I will live them and explain them as best I can, but it's up to each individual to accept or reject Christ. Also, keep in mind that Jesus never told us to celebrate any special day. How we keep holidays is to be in line with our consciences, guided by Scripture (Romans 14:5). I'm not concerned about whether schools or municipalities display Christmas decorations or not, as long as everyone is treated fairly. I'm not insulted when an unbeliever, or someone who doesn't know me, doesn't wish me a Merry Christmas. I appreciate the thought, but I don't want to offend anyone's conscience. "Happy Holidays" is fine with me. I just object to keeping the trappings of Christmas while ignoring or rejecting the One Whose birthday it commemorates.
Charles Schulz's and, by proxy, Charlie Brown's and Linus's efforts to emphasize the true meaning of Christmas are perfect examples of how Christians should approach this holiday. As Romans 14:5, 6 state: "One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord." If we celebrate or not, as long as we honor the Lord, it's acceptable.
I have to confess, I occasionally use "Xmas" for "Christmas" in limited ways. "X" is the first letter in the Greek translation for "Christ." The early churches used it, but it's become a way to keep from acknowledging Christ. Many will say, "Well, I celebrate the spirit of the season." However, as the ubiquitous lapel pins say: "Jesus is the Reason for the Season." There is no Christmas season without Christ. Could you imagine your family and friends celebrating your birthday without inviting you? Or, even worse, celebrating in ways that offend you, and maybe even paying tribute to your arch rival? How must Jesus feel when Christmas is turned into foolish and drunken revelry? As far as Santa goes, remember what God said: "I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols" (Isaiah 42:8). Santa Claus and the manger cannot coexist.
Yes, I am very serious about Christmas. I enjoy the lights and shopping and festivities and warm fuzzies and frosty tootsies, but I long to make Jesus Christ the center of the celebration. It's time we dig under the piles of newspaper inserts, catalogs, and credit card bills, and find the true meaning: the "unspeakable gift" (2 Corinthians 9:15). "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). Jesus Christ was born so that we can be born again (John 3:3).
As Christians, we need to stand on stage like Linus, alone if necessary, and proclaim Messiah's birth. Not only that but, as Scrooge of old promised, we must keep Christmas in our hearts, even every day.
"God bless us, every one!"
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