So I really have to admit, I just don’t understand this whole “political correctness” thing in regards to the traditional Christmas greeting.
For 30 years I lived in a world of non-Christians who cheerfully celebrated this holiday with open arms. Nobody I knew really professed any great faith, but we all looked forward to this time of year, giving and accepting gifts, and enjoying the time off from school and from work.
As a kid, I loved the idea of Santa, even hoping from a distance that the whole “reason for the season” was legitimate, even if I didn’t understand it. As parents, long before we believed, my wife and I made concerted efforts to encourage the idea and reality of Santa Claus, by wrapping presents and labeling them from Santa, setting out the milk and cookies, and even penning personal letters from Santa to the kids to be seen on Christmas day.
For a really long time, the Christmas season has been celebrated unashamedly by Christians and non-Christians alike. Those that did not celebrate it NEVER condemned it, even though they wholeheartedly did not believe any of it. Instead, they would normally just return the ritual blessing of “Merry Christmas” to whoever offered it to them, and they did so in gentleness and respect.
Just as it is written that “[God] causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous,” so Christmas falls on everyone. Everyone is permitted to enjoy “the rain” of Christmas, while there has not been one Christian who says, “We should not celebrate it because of all the wicked people who are allowed to share in its blessings!”
But instead, those very souls who are hardened against the Gospel demand that the name of God or the name of the birthday boy who’s day we celebrate each year (around the world) not be uttered, or indeed the very blessing intended for them when the words “Merry Christmas” are spoken or displayed, and try to suggest that this ultimate expression of love should not be bestowed upon anyone, especially them!
What savage, bigoted, hateful, right-wing message are people trying to convey when they wish a perfect stranger “Merry Christmas,” I wonder? What horrible ideal are these Christian lunatics attempting to communicate to these fearful, hopeless brethren? What maddening rhetoric are these delusional “Jesus-freaks” trying to spew on everyone else?
Love one another? Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men? God so loves you that he sent Jesus to die in your place? Yeah, wow, I suppose those are pretty horrible sentiments…
Well, I wonder if anyone who demands that God, Jesus, or Christmas – or any other derogatory term – be expunged from the human vocabulary, would also volunteer to work on Christmas Day, stay in school through Christmas and Easter break, not participate in gift-giving or receiving, and completely do away with everything else associated with this Christmas holiday, with their end-game to be what?
Perhaps, if they can just be allowed, once and for all, to believe that God doesn’t exist, He would leave them alone and allow them to continue living on their own terms without His intervention or interference. And then, when the end comes, they can just be erased from existence forever.
Ironically, this is already true, except for that last part. God loves them enough to honor their decision to be on their own. Despite the rhetoric, He isn’t forcing anybody to do or believe anything. If one chooses to live on their own terms (even if they claim to “believe” in God), then they are. But if they think for a second that not believing in an eternity separated from God will result in the lie of non-existence when they die, then that is the greatest tragedy of all!
So whether you believe in God or not, whether you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior or not, whether you believe in heaven and hell or not, believe this:
Whether I’m right or wrong in my faith, it is my utmost service to you, in love, to share with you what I know. It is not meant as an insult to your intelligence, it is meant as the greatest expression of love I can muster!
So when I look you in the eyes, smile, and wish you a “Merry Christmas,” please understand that what I mean is:
I really, really understand that life is hard, family is tough, and you may have suffered a loss that makes this time of year very difficult for you. But you are not alone, and God hasn’t forgotten about you. You may be hurt, you may be furious at Him, and that’s okay. He’s there when you’re ready, because He has not abandoned you. Jesus was born so that He could die for you, because He knew you could not die for yourself, with the hope that you might be reconciled with your Father in heaven through Him.
You may not believe this, and you don’t have to, but that doesn’t make it not true. And so even though I may not know you, even though you may be an imperfect stranger, what I’m trying to say is, “I love you, but God loves you more!”