Christmas is fast approaching and the season will be over before we know it. In thinking about the season, something weighs on me as it seems to do every year. It is the ever growing argument of “Happy Holidays” versus “Merry Christmas.”
Before I begin, I would like to say up front that I am all for saying “Merry Christmas” as much as any Christian. I would rather say “Merry Christmas.” I’d rather hear “Merry Christmas” when out in public. I don’t like that “Merry Christmas” is being replaced more and more with “Happy Holidays.” But let’s take a look at this argument for argument’s sake.
First off, why is it an issue? Many Christians would claim that this is a Christian nation, and that Christmas is a Christian holiday. While this nation may have been founded upon Christian values, I challenge the saying that this is a Christian nation. I call anyone who says this to be very honest with themselves. Look around. What do you see going on in society? Christ said that we would know His followers by how they loved each other. I don’t know about you, but I don’t see that everywhere I look. I see it in some places, and it warms my heart. But what I do see is a society that is driven by entertainment. And I see entertainment that is over sexualized in every corner of the industry. People are praised at how much they can drink. In movies and tv shows and books, the criminal is made into the hero and the authorities are the villains. I’m not talking about Robin Hood here, I’m referring to drug dealers and biker gangs and so forth. No. Sadly, when I look at our nation, I do not see a Christian one. I see a pagan one, driven by the sensual pleasures of the here and now.
We will bypass the common argument that Christmas was built on a pagan holiday. I acknowledge the events that led to December 25th being selected as Christmas day. But Christ is known to not have been born on December 25th. Big deal. For those that want to stick by the whole “pagan” argument, I point you to the passages in the Bible where Christians are allowed to buy and eat meat that had been dedicated to pagan gods. (1 Corinthians 8:1-10)
Now concerning food offered to idols:we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.
Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” For although there may be so- called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
So the whole pagan argument is neither here nor there. If we are convicted in our hearts that we are worshiping God and bringing glory to Him, then whose to say that it is all wrong? If you are convicted not to celebrate Christmas because of any seemly pagan origins, then by all means, don’t celebrate Christmas. If you simply don’t believe in God or the birth of Jesus Christ, then why do you care?
With that aside, we as Christians are not called to celebrate any day as near as I can tell. The closest thing to be found in the Bible around this day is the Jewish Festival of Lights, which we better know as Hanukah. So this would be the only Biblically legitimate claim to the season. But that’s beside the point I will be getting at.
So Hanukah and Christmas, in my eyes, are the only real holidays in the season. While I acknowledge that other groups have days that they celebrate this time of year, you must understand that I don’t believe what they do and therefore do not hold their holidays in any esteem. I do however, accept their right to celebrate a day however they wish without any harassment on my part. If they wish to reject God and the idea why Christmas is celebrated, I accept their freedom to do so. That’s no worse than me not recognizing their holiday. It’s all the same really. Which is what real tolerance is; disagreeing yet accepting the other’s right to believe what they will.
This finally brings me to the actual act of saying “Merry Christmas” versus “Happy Holidays.” In light of all of the above, there are clearly many who do not respect Christmas, or recognize it as it should be recognized. So I must ask myself, do I really want people to say “Merry Christmas” to me and not mean it? No. I’d rather someone be genuine about what they say. I don’t want a half hearted “Merry Christmas.” I don’t want them to say it because they have to. If they’re genuinely wishing me a “Happy Holidays,” I’d rather have that. At least it’s honest if nothing else. That doesn’t mean I have to say “Happy Holidays” and sacrifice my own feelings. That doesn’t mean I have to wish a good holiday to a belief that I don’t believe to be true. But I can still be respectful about it.
This may seem callous at a glance, but is it really? I’m not calling anyone any names. I’m not telling anyone what they have to say to me or others. What I’m simply asking is for genuineness. If that means telling me “Happy Holidays,” so be it. If that means you’d rather tell me to “shove off,” that’s okay too. I’d rather have your honesty.
To the Christians out there, why do we celebrate Christmas anyway? Is it because we have an excuse to shopping and buy all kinds of stuff we don’t need? Is it about snowmen and Santa Claus and decorations? No and no. Christmas is about God sending Jesus Christ to Earth to set in motion His plan for the redemption of mankind. It’s about God’s selfless gift to us, while we didn’t deserve it. We commemorate this in many different ways, but I hope that the meaning is not lost on those who celebrate Christmas. And as Christians, should we force a saying on others to commemorate God’s gift? Shall we badger everyone for not believing exactly the way we do? Or would it be better to simply share God’s love and the message of Jesus Christ, and minister to others even when they don’t believe. Perhaps this love will bring them around to believing as we do. If they choose not to believe, are we to berate them and belittle them? What did Jesus tell the disciples that he sent out in twos to do if a village did not receive them? Burn it to the ground? Cleanse the village of unbelief? Nope. He told them to dust the sand from their sandals and move on to the next village. Some people will hate us no matter what we do or say. Jesus told us as much. So I challenge you to share the love of Christ this season, and give selflessly. If you are met with opposition, ‘dust the sand from your sandals’ and move on. Is forcing a person to say “Merry Christmas” when they don’t believe it really capturing the meaning of the season? In my humble opinion, I don’t think it does. They don’t need to say “Merry Christmas,” they need to hear the words of Jesus Christ. So as God sent Jesus for mankind, let us also celebrate Christmas in like manner with an unbelieving world. Let us bring Jesus to them and show them who He is, in stead of making them say a few select words to appease us. For if they come to believe, they will freely say “Merry Christmas” without being coerced.
With all that said, I would genuinely like to wish you a Merry Christmas! If that doesn’t do anything for you, I simply wish you a good day. And to all, I wish a Happy New Year! God Bless.