Amidst the current Starbucks red cup debacle, I’ve been thinking a lot about a Christian’s role this holiday season. I want to address another issue concerning the “War on Christmas” that has been weighing on my heart. (For those curious, my thoughts on the red cup issue can be perfectly summed up here.)
For the past few years, Christians have been making it a priority throughout the Christmas season to “put the Christ back in Christmas.” The heart of the issue has a Biblical foundation, as Christians, our celebration of this holiday should be absolutely centered on Christ alone. The saying is true, “He is the reason for the season.” If our holiday festivities get in the way of our hearts recognizing that this holiday began as a way to give glory to God, and honor the Virgin birth; then we need to seriously re-evaluate our priorities. However, as a result of this movement, I’ve heard Christians complaining, and even boycotting, businesses that have reverted to using the phrase “Happy Holidays.” In fact, some of the most hateful speech I usually hear during this time of the year, stems from either Christians getting “offended” over this term, or people complaining about crowds at the mall.
I believe this “Merry Christmas Only” movement started as a way to encourage other believers to re-evaluate their Christmas priorities. I have no problem with that. What really stirs my soul is when I hear Christians casting judgement on non-believers for their preferred use of holiday greeting. As Believers, we have the Biblical responsibility to show Christ honor throughout this special season. We should definitely encourage one another by cheerfully saying “Merry Christmas!” However, we should not be holding non-believers to our standards as believers, because they do not have a relationship with Jesus. (1 Corinthians 5:12 “It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.”) We should be pursuing relationships with them, encouraging them to follow Christ, and representing Him through our behavior. How are we to show Jesus’ love to others if we are criticizing something as trite as a holiday greeting, or the color of a Starbucks cup?
The judgement in our tone will directly influence the way others view our Jesus. The critical looks we give to cashiers who are scraping by for the holiday season, and who use the term “Happy Holidays”instead of “Merry Christmas”, will not help spread the Gospel. Scowling at people who say “Happy Holidays” only distances our hearts from the One we should be glorifying. I believe that the Christian church will have a much bigger impact this holiday season if we take the energy spent being “offended,” and used it to feed the hungry, clothe the homeless, and pray for our neighbors. Wouldn’t assisting those in need be living in resemblance of Christ? Matthew 25 details Jesus’ ideals for the Kingdom, which includes first and foremost caring for the “least of these.”
This Christmas season, I will happily tell others “Happy Holidays.” Not because I believe Christ should be removed from Christmas, but simply because the season between Thanksgiving through New Years truly is composed of MULTIPLE holidays. “Happy Holidays” does not determine the state of my heart, or desire to bring others to Jesus. As a church, we will bring more people the good news by, well, living like Jesus Himself: loving first and loving well. Laying out our complaints against society in “righteous anger” will not cause anyone to want to know our Jesus, I assure you. I challenge you to break the mold this Christmas season. Heck, drink your red Starbucks cups with pride. Happy Holidays, y’all!