Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Happy Holidays...or is it Merry Christmas?

Once again, we've entered the month long period of when I hear my fellow church goers bemoaning the increasingly popular use of "Happy Holidays" over their preferred "Merry Christmas." Today, you can't go anywhere without seeing stores, restaurants, television shows, and newspaper ads taking extra care not to use the dreaded "C" word in case it might offend those who don't celebrate the birth of Christ, Jesus of Nazareth.

In truth, this change bothers me as well. It acts as a very clear reminder that fewer and fewer people are even willing to recognize Jesus, much less follow Him as Lord and Savior. The reason all those companies have changed their terminology is that they know to follow the majority opinion, and there are simply more people in our culture that don't affiliate themselves with Jesus than there are those who claim the title of Christian.

So how do we, as followers of Jesus, as ones who celebrate His birth, respond to this change? Do we get mad about it? That's a pretty common response. I hear people on a regular basis (although it has seemed to lessen in the past couple of years) who loudly and bitterly express their disapproval of those who've stopped using "Merry Christmas." I have no problem with people expressing their opinions, in fact we should welcome it, but in this case I don't think it's done the church any favors.  Another option would be to let it go. Many have chosen to adopt the attitude of indifference to this change. They don't care what phrase the store puts on their sign outside as long as there are still good sales on the inside. While this response certainly doesn't help the problem any, I do believe it gets us closer to determining what's at the heart of this issue.

What I've come to believe is that we, as followers of Jesus Christ, have been confronted with the uncomfortable truth that we approach the Christmas season almost exactly as the entire non-Christian world. In other words, we've been living as though we are experiencing happy holidays instead of living out a merry Christmas. We focus on the giving and receiving of gifts, just as everyone else does. We look forward to time off of work, just as everyone else does. We spend money on ridiculous things, just like everyone else does. We may take the time to go to a special Christmas Eve service, but let's please not evaluate our Christlikeness based on our church attendance to one service out of the year.

What's truly going on is that it's hard to tell a Christian and a non-Christian apart during this time of year when we as followers of Jesus Christ are supposed to be celebrating Him! No wonder business owners have stopped using the phrase "Merry Christmas." They hardly see anyone truly living out Christmas anymore!

So we could keep on yelling at those who've starting saying "Happy Holidays" but that's really just putting the blame on someone else for a problem that we've created, or we choose to find ways to live this season in a way that's different from those around us. People should take notice of us during this time of year and say, "Why are they so different from everyone else?" It's our job to live as ones who are truly having a merry CHRISTmas and then those around us will have to take notice.