Summary: How the world sees Christmas is far from what God was actually doing.
Christmas through the Eyes of the World
A friend of ours who is a young pastor’s wife and has three children. They went to the Christmas parade and as the floats went by her daughter kept hollering to the people in the parade, “Happy Halloween!”
Another young mom wrote on Facebook, “Just set up the Fisher Price Nativity under the tree and told the Christmas Story to my children. At the end I asked if they understood and could tell the story back to me... awaiting a great parenting moment... CJ looks at me confused and says, ‘Where’s the big bad wolf?’ There is a lot of confusion surrounding Christmas, and it is not just children.
A cartoon I once saw explained the feelings of a lot of Americans today. It showed two homes decorated for Christmas. One had lights everywhere. There was a plastic snowman in the yard, a Santa on the roof, and a flashing sign in the front yard that said, “Merry Xmas!” The other home had only a simple manger scene in the yard. The couple from the first house was looking out their window at the manger scene in their neighbor’s yard and said: “Some people have to put religion into everything.”
One of the radio talk shows had a spoof on how we have overreacted to Christ being a part of Christmas and not wanting to offend anyone. So, combining the holidays of Ramadan, Hanukkah, Kwanza and Christmas, they wished everyone a happy RamaHanuKwanzMas to the tune of “Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas.” But is it possible to have a non-offensive Christmas? The whole point of Christmas is that God came down to get in our faces, and stake his claim to the world and our individual lives — and that is offensive no matter how much you dress it up. Jesus being offensive is actually very much a part of the real Christmas, so it really should not surprise us.
Because it is offensive, we are busy avoiding the real point of it all. The world will celebrate Christmas without ever worshiping or meditating on the real meaning of this special season. Christmas is no longer a Christian holy day. We have it all planned. Every minute is so full. The holiday will come and go and many will have done all their shopping with no consideration for the reason behind the season. They will go to parties where Christ’s name will never be mentioned and the real meaning of the season will be completely avoided — lest we make someone uncomfortable.
In a culture which is increasingly secularized, there are many people who have no clue about what it all means. A friend of mine gave a Bible to someone who was going through a difficult time. The person was in real need, and their life had been one disaster after the other, but in all that time there was never any concrete attempt to give their life to God and follow him. As my friend gave a Bible to this person, and encouraged him to read it, he suggested that he might start by reading the Christmas story, since it was that time of year. The man looked at him in astonishment and said: “You mean the Christmas story is in the Bible?” For those of us who know what the Christmas story is, and have read and heard the Christmas story many times from Scripture, it seems incredible that someone would not know something that basic. But there is a growing ignorance of spiritual things in our land as we attempt to separate our lives from the any contact with, or reference to, God.
Christmas in the eyes of the world is bringing mace and stun guns to Black Friday department store sales. Christmas is combing the stores in frustration. It is fighting someone for the latest action figure or fashion doll. It’s camping all night outside Walmart and then getting trampled in a stampede at 6:00 in the morning by the other people trying to get into the store. It is baking cookies, making candy, and roasting hams. It is searching the Christmas tree lots for just the right tree. It is listening to dogs barking to the tune of “Jingle Bells,” or Brenda Lee singing “Jingle Bell Rock.” It is going to a party where once again you will sing “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” It is wondering how you can get what you want for everyone and still be able to buy groceries in January. It is rushing and running to get it all done.
The world has tried to take a Christian holy day and make it a holiday — gutting it of its real meaning, while trying to keep the wonder and joy of it. It comes across as exceedingly hollow and shallow to those of us whose lives have been transformed by the reality of that story. We have heard again this year the controversies surrounding Christmas. The Christ-child and any depiction of the nativity are being asked to leave more and more places. But isn’t that the reality of Christmas? A child is born into the world and the world ignores him at best and turns its hostility on him at worst. At the time of the first Christmas he was unwelcome, and many wanted to destroy him and erase his name from the earth. My daughter’s church will be closed on Christmas day — on Christ’s day! We can’t even say, “Merry Christmas.”