Christmastime is here again, marked by the crisp cold air, the decorated trees popping up, and the endless fight over Xmas, Happy Holidays and the red Starbucks cup. Oh, the things we dream up to fight about.
You know Christians… and I really mean fundamental, behavior-focused exclusionary Christians… you could have taken a completely different approach to this. Look at Xmas for example. X comes from the symbol for Christ. It means Christ. What more do you want? Instead of bemoaning the fact that the world at large has ruined your word, Christmas, by not retaining Christ in it, you could be saying…
“Rock on. Look at the entire country celebrating our holiday! Muhahaha!”
Well, no one knows X means Christ? Tell ‘em! You’ve certainly raised your voice over Xmas and everything else. Reframe your thinking on this, and you’re the victor instead of the victim!
So Christmas came from pagan origins? Awesome! Someone along the way pulled a fast one and now some random pagan holiday celebrates your Christ!
WHAT ARE YOU COMPLAINING ABOUT?!?
You could have a fig-eating grin on your face right now because this is the holiday celebrated all these years by your country which allows but does not require its citizens to be Christians.
Didn’t you luck out?!
You could be walking around talking about how incredibly grateful you are that your religion, which started out as ragtag rebels, has become a widely recognized faith around the world—one that requires nothing of you but a relationship, which God has offered you… and everyone else! You could be sharing the overflow of your grateful heart.
God has been incredibly gracious to you, and so has your country by not only allowing you to be who you wanted to be, but by giving you preference. You didn’t grow up seeing the Koran or menorahs or Kwaanza symbols everywhere you turned, but you did see crosses and Christmas trees.
Now, after two centuries of dominance of Christian symbols in this country, others have spoken up and said, “Helloooo! We’re not all Christians here! We have other faiths here!” The right thing… well, the Christian thing to do would be to say, “Oh forgive me! Let me give you some room here! I didn’t mean to take up the whole country—I think we can all fit!” It’s not an elevator that’s full and others must wait for the next one. It’s a country with lots and lots of room.
That’s what Happy Holidays means, by the way, that we are happy to accommodate various people who all live here but don’t all think the same thing. Same with the red cup. Starbucks is still acknowledging the holiday season—and the big star of the show has been Christmas for as long as anyone can remember! They’re just allowing others to have a part too.
It’s like the boy who sees the empty house the family just bought—and he runs through saying, “This will be my bedroom, and this will be my Lego room, and this will be my fort room, and this will be—” But you stop him and say, “No, this will be your room, and this will be your sister’s room, and this will be our room, and this will be the Grandma’s room.” And your son is bewildered; he thought he had the run of the place.What your experiencing here, after having the run of the place, is other people saying, “Wait a minute—we need to live here too. We need some room.”
There’s even a word for this: it’s PRIVILEGE. It means: a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.
Christians have been the special group here. By Christians I mean white Christians. I especially mean white Christians who are not in poverty. White straight Christians who are not in poverty. Okay, here it is: white, straight, non-poor, male Christians and (to a limited degree) the wives attached to them.
The worst thing part about privilege is those with it are the last ones to know they have it. If it were your child, you might call is spoiled. What child knows they’re spoiled?
Privilege is accompanied by some other words we don’t like: self-focus, pride, arrogance, rudeness—and indignation when anyone questions you. We know what happens to the privileged; they become Sodomites. “Arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy” (Ezekiel 16:49).
We are currently in a Reformation of church and culture. What has been handed to Christians will no longer be handed to them. It can feel so unfair, but it’s really a righting of what has been unfair for so long.
If you want people to embrace Christmas, it starts by embracing Christ. And to embrace Christ, well, you’re going to have to be a lot more loving.
Look at it as a built-in opportunity to witness to the amazing grace God has shown to you in your relationship with Christ—if you can do it with love and humility and not the obnoxiousness of a belligerent child who did not realize he’d have to share!
Isn’t that the least a Christian could do?
Remember that Jesus empowered women, and children, and poor, and non-straight. Oh, and he wasn’t even white.
So please be more thoughtful of those who are different from you, in whatever way they’re different. It’s a big world out there with a lot of people in it.
If someone says “Happy Holidays!” to you, don’t be a jerk. Your Christlike, loving response is simple… “Thank you! Same to you!”
Let’s do our best to love each other—it’s the main job the Christ of Christmas gave us.
Instead of worrying about people taking Christ out of Christmas, maybe you should be more concerned about how much the church is taking Christ out of Christianity.
I wish you a wonderful Xmas. And if you’re privileged enough to enjoy a nice holiday drink in a red Starbucks cup, be grateful. It suits you!