This was in the purpose-driven Life devotional today. Very well said.
by John Fischer
This Christmas, Christians have been caught in the throes of a war on semantics. We are seeing and hearing more “Happy Holidays” and less “Merry Christmases.” The beloved “Christmas tree” has turned into being a “Holiday tree." One television ad plays regularly with carolers singing: “We Wish You A Happy Holiday” to the tune of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.”
One can surely see why a general mood of fighting back could prevail. I have seen numerous emails floating around with pictures of Christmas trees lamenting the secularization of Christmas. The underlying tone of these messages so far has been one of anger and partisanship, as if to say: “They can't take our Christmas away from us!”
It's an interesting question and one we need to consider seriously. If this a battle, on what level do we fight it? If someone wishes us “Happy Holidays,” do we respond with a hearty “Merry Christmas,” thus striking a blow for the kingdom of God?
I'm not so sure it's as important as all this. After all, it's Christ that is the issue, not Christmas. I don't even think Jesus cares very much about what we or anyone else call an evergreen with lights on it in December. Jesus never cared much about labels anyway; He always cared more about what was in the heart.
Here's how you put Christ back into Christmas: you celebrate Him as Lord of your life and ruler of your heart, and you love even those who want to take Christmas out of the Holiday equation. Jesus didn't come to condemn the world, but to save it (John 3:17). He came to forgive sins -- mine… yours… everybody's. Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. Let's not let religious pride get in the way of the core message of the gospel. It's never been us against them; it's us for them. We mustn't forget that Jesus came to die for the very people who are trying to secularize our country.
In our zeal to keep Christ in Christmas, lets be careful not to alienate the very peoplewho need Him the most -- those who don't know Him. People are more likely to be set on the road to salvation by loving, caring believers who are secure in the hope of the real Christ living in their lives, and whose faith is brighter than any Christmas tree.
It's what's in your heart that really counts this Christmas. Let's not get so taken up with fighting to save a name that we forget to live out the reality of the hope of Christ to the world. If people end up encountering the real Christ of Christmas, it will matter little what we end up calling the holiday itself.