I recently received an email listing all the major businesses that don’t say the word “Christmas” and was told that I should boycott them until they nix “happy holidays” and start saying “Merry Christmas.” I am told that these businesses
“…continue to insult and offend Christian shoppers by sticking with their politically correct “holiday” term.
While I can perhaps appreciate the sentiment of such efforts, I believe them to be misguided. Christians should not wage war as the world does, for the kingdom of Christ is not of this world. A boycott simply says, “do what we Christians want or we’ll show you how powerful we are.” However, in proving that we have a big enough power base so as to hurt someone’s business, don’t we also risk losing the essence of the gospel? I believe so. As Christians, we do not spread the gospel by forcing a business to use the term “Christmas” with our financial threats, nor must we prove that we are powerful enough to do so. No, Christians spread the gospel by doing just that…spreading the gospel. We keep Christ in Christmas by pointing to the true meaning of Christmas! Jesus Christ came in humility, not worldly power; in meekness, not threatening. He was reviled, but did not revile in return. He loved the hurting and had mercy on those who didn’t deserve it. And most importantly, he preached the gospel at all times, using words. And he practiced what he preached.
“When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.”
(1 Peter 2:23; 3:9 ESV)
“And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.
And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.¶ “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:40–48 ESV)
The problem in our nation is not that people use the word “holiday” rather than “Christmas.” This is only symptomatic of a much deeper problem: people do not understand the message behind the word. They do not understand the message that caused angels to break out into song in open fields one night long ago. They do not understand the message that caused shepherds to drop their staffs and worship a baby. They do not understand the message that compelled wise men to travel from distant lands. They do not understand the message that struck fear into the heart of a wicked king. They do not understand the message which brought the son of God into this world to die on a tree for sinners. They do not understand the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” ¶ And I, when I came to you, brothers,did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” (1 Corinthians 1:22–25, 31–2:4 ESV)
Perhaps keeping Christ in Christians should not involve boycotting a store who says “holidays,” but rather in going there! Maybe Christians should go to those stores, show the love of Christ, and genuinely wish the people there a merry Christmas. Maybe we share the gospel with those at the checkout, or leave a tract explaining the true meaning of Christmas. Let’s invite them to our Christmas services at church, let’s demonstrate the love of Christ, not by power or influence, but by gentleness and kindness. Let’s demonstrate the gospel by a genuine concern for people’s souls. We should not expect lost people to act Christian, nor should we boycott them if they don’t. We should reach out to the lost, loving them and sharing the gospel with them. Change will not come by boycotts or protests or displays of power and influence, but rather by a genuine love for the lost and a desire to see all people everywhere know the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. This is the true meaning of Christmas. This is how we keep Christ in CHRISTmas.
“Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.””
(John 18:36 ESV)