The Hallmark Channels are showing nothing but Christmas movies, decorations have started appearing… I don’t even fight that battle anymore. I tried and lost. Sirius XM has started their Holly station on channel 65. Holly plays mostly modern Christmas pop but they throw in well known tunes by Elvis, Johnny Mathis and Andy Williams as well. As we get closer to Christmas more seasonal channels will be added, such as traditional, religious and even a Hallmark Christmas radio channel.
If you don’t subscribe to satellite radio stay with me, that’s not really what this post is about. The Holly channel I mentioned above features culturally acceptable Christmas season music; there will be no mention of angels, wise men, shepherds, Mary, Joseph and certainly not Jesus, baby or otherwise. Christians approach Christmas in a variety of ways; like many things they come in different flavors. At our house we watch the Charlie Brown special, decorate a tree and even hang a stocking on the fireplace mantle. We do all the traditional, cultural Christmas things in addition to lighting the candles on the Advent wreath and the other church activities. Some Christians observe only the religious elements while some have nothing to with Christmas at all. A careful reading of the New Testament will reveal no command is ever given to observe or celebrate the birth of Jesus. Despite decorating and exchanging presents – but no tree, that’s another story for another day – my dad often pointed out that the birth of Jesus is recorded in only two Gospels but his death and resurrection is in all four. These are the three basic ways Christians respond to the holiday season; nothing at all, religious, mixture of religious and tradition. There are pro’s and con’s to each and I’m not criticizing anyone based on your choice. Having said that…
Even though Thanksgiving is not until next week I will admit to tuning into Holly once or twice already. That’s the Christmas pop station with Elvis, Mariah Carey, Pentatonix and so forth. Some Christians are very critical of listening to popular music that has a Christmas theme but no religious elements. They feel that everyone, especially other Christians, should take a Jesus or nothing approach to Christmas. Or perhaps even a Jesus and nothing is not an option approach to this time of year. I use to say that if you don’t chose to do Santa Claus in your home with your kids that’s your business; but if you tell my child there is no Santa Claus we are going to have problems. I’m using that to illustrate a point not to promote Santa. Here is what I’m getting at:
Jesus did not come into the world to make people do anything.
Jesus made salvation possible but never forced it on anybody. He preached the Gospel and there is reward for those who receive it. Jesus wept over Jerusalem because he loved them and knew what their rejection meant, not for him but for them. If the local elementary school has a Christmas program that features snowflakes and warm fuzzy feelings, take pictures of your kids or grandkids and be happy they have a program at all. It is not the place of the public school system to provide your kids or mine with a theological education. Consider the prospect of teaching Bible in public schools. Michael Spencer asked the question “Who is going to teach it?” Consider that hardshell Baptists and other fundamentalists believe that Roman Catholics need to get saved. Would those Christians be okay with their children learning from 1st and 2nd Maccabees if the teacher happened to be Catholic? I would not be okay with a Church of Christ teacher telling my daughter, who I baptized, that she is not really saved because she was not baptized for the remission of sins. Remember what I said about Christians coming in different flavors? I think a reasonable interpretation of scripture is that parents should first and foremost be responsible for their children’s religious instruction. Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
Christian believer: it is good that you want others to hear and believe. It is arrogant and I will go as far as to say unchristlike to insist they like and dislike all the same things you do. When Starbucks switched to plain red cups at Christmas a few years ago people lost their minds. Many are doing the same thing right now over Chick-fil-A and who they give money to. Please consider your own giving before criticizing a company with strong Christian values that gives away millions of dollars to worthy causes. This Christmas season, as in every season, take a long look at Jesus and consider how to be Christ-like. Just a thought.