Summary: A reminder of how to live our lives during the Christmas season.
The War on Christmas
December 10, 2017
About 10 years ago there was a phrase which was popular. It didn’t last long, but it seems like every Christmas season those who are Christ followers feel like we’re in a battle. There was a popular book called The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought.
Christmas lovers have been asked to boycott businesses that don't use the word "Christmas" in their advertisements. You can't use "Happy Holidays" it must be "Merry Christmas." If not they’ll end up on the Enemies of Christmas list. There even was an organization keeping track of which retailers are naughty or nice.
Now, I want to warn you, I’m going to break with tradition. You see, I'm a little confused. We’ve heard for years and years that Christmas is too commercial — it’s all about the money. Now people complain that retailers aren’t using the name of Jesus. They’ve made it too generic. I hear the concerns. But . . . do we really want some of these companies invoking the name of Jesus to sell their goods?
The fact is, do you really want Budweiser, Seagrams, Marlboro, and Abercrombie and Fitch invoking the name of Jesus? Do you really want to see an ad that says, “Come, relax as a family . . . celebrate the birth of Christ with a Bud Light?” Maybe Season’s Greetings isn’t so bad!
Even in the movie Miracle on 34th Street, one of the characters complains that Christmas isn't like it used to be, it's become too focused on the material aspect. I’m not here to continue the war on Christmas. Remember what the angels said as the heavenly host appeared in the night before a group of awestruck shepherds ~
14 Glory to God in the highest. And on earth peace, goodwill toward men. – Luke 2:14
This is a time of peace, a time of joy, a time to give glory to God, a time to express goodwill or generosity toward others. We need to understand the world view of Christmas has changed. It’s become much more secular and less spiritual or religious. Many people treat Christmas like I did when I was growing up. It’s a reason not to have school, to get together with family, to eat lots of good food, and to get gifts. (I didn’t get gifts, I got those at Chanukah). But all the rest applied to me. The fact is we really don’t live in a Christian world anymore. Most of the people we encounter don’t follow Christ as we follow Christ.
The proper response to this is NOT to say, “So, that makes us enemies, we’re at war!” The real response should be to show love, grace, acceptance and generosity to those who do not celebrate Christmas, or believe the way we do.
Today we're going to look at Luke 3. It's about John the Baptist. John the Baptist was a prophet and a preacher. He was also an older cousin of Jesus. Large crowds gathered to listen to him. And John had a lot to say about hypocrisy and religiosity; repentance and good works. However, the primary purpose of his ministry was to announce and prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.
There's a story in John 3 in which some of his followers came to him and said ~
26 “Rabbi, He who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness — look, He is baptizing, and all are going to Him.”
John's reply wasn’t what they expected. In essence he said, that’s the way it’s supposed to happen. Then John added these words ~ ~
30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”
That kind of sums up the Christian life in 7 words!!
John the Baptist captured the essence of what it means to be a follower of Christ. He is to become greater; I am to become less. John’s role was to lead people to see Jesus. There’s a sense in which our job, our purpose is to do the same thing. We are to help people see and experience Jesus by the way we live. Jesus increases, we decrease! We die . . . so that we may live.
This is such a wonderful time of the year, but the fact is that with all the craziness going on around us, it's easy to miss. It's easy to get lost in the external things, the material things, the stressful things to the extent that it's easy to miss the beauty, the power, and simplicity of the Christmas message. That message is ~
16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.