Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Ho, ho, ho, What Would Jesus Say?

I know I'm not alone in my love for almost everything Christmas.

I particularly love that that the family room is adorned with a beautiful tree hung with ornaments collected over the years or made by my children when they were much younger; the fireplace mantle's normal decorations have been replaced by stockings "hung with care" and Christmas cards from loved ones near and far; and that everywhere I look are snowmen and snowmen and Santas of various sizes and type of craftsmanship.

The red-sweater Scentsy emits a warm glow and the gorgeous scent of a Christmas tree, and candles and holiday decor placed throughout the house gives it a much-needed makeover every year when cold weather keeps me indoors.

I'm also a big fan of Christmas goodies -- cookies of all sorts, divinity, and fudge (but only the type made in a cast-iron skillet with Hershey's chocolate, milk, lots of stirring, and a test ball in a glass of cold water to see if it's ready to be poured on a buttered plate).

I don't get as excited about Christmas music. I like it, of course, and I sing along with it at the appropriate time, but I don't seek it out unless I'm decorating or baking or it's Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

One thing I really don't like about Christmas is the constant preoccupation with the seasonal greeting businesses place on their signs or people use as a greeting or  farewell. In fact, I'll just say it outright:

I don't care if a person prefers to say "Merry Christmas"!

I don't care if someone says Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas!

There. I said it. I've been itching to post that on Facebook, where people have been frantically sharing "If you love Jesus you'll say Merry Christmas" memes.

While I don't care what greeting people use, I am bothered by the fact that the posters of these memes, and many of those who agree with them, are essentially determining what it is that reflects the nature of another person's relationship with God.

I'm in the last week of a very well-respected, Biblically based, non-denominational 12-week Bible study on knowing and loving God. Each week, I've sat down at the table 6 mornings a week and read the 3-5 page lesson, consulted Scripture, and answered another 3-5 pages of questions (and this book is not a small one -- the pages are 8 1/2 x 11 -- that's a lot of material!). In all of those pages, in all of the hundreds of Scriptures, and in the various commentaries I've consulted, what I've learned about knowing and loving God comes down to this:  a person who loves God will obey God. Not a single reference to using any specific, or God-approved, phrase.

I wonder, too, why some people feel it's imperative that "Christ" be the root word of the phrase used so that the everyone is reminded that Christmas is about the birth of Christ. Yes, I know that Christ's birth is essential to Christianity.

The same Person's death and resurrection 3 days afterward is also essential to another very important Christian holiday, yet not a single "Merry Christmas" hardliner I know ever questions the fact that "Christ" is not a part of the word "Easter".

Besides, "Holiday" originated from "holy day"; and isn't Christmas, in fact, a holy day?

But what really stands out to me about the posturing on social media and elsewhere as well as the hand-slapping of those Christians who refuse to boycott stores using "Happy Holidays" or who {gasp} actually send Christmas cards with that phrase, utter it aloud, or use it in any other way is this.

Jesus made it very clear, more than once, how He felt about those who practice their faith publicly in order to show their righteousness. To save you some google time, I'll share just one of quote of Jesus' words from the Bible (Matthew 6:1):

"Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven."

Is it wrong for a person to prefer "Merry Christmas" over "Happy Holidays"? According to all the Scripture I have read after weeks of googling, various respected concordances, and red-letter New Testament passages in letters on Christian conduct penned by the human writers of the New Testament -- absolutely not.

Is it wrong for such a person to take upon themselves the role of doctrine-maker and then judge of those not practicing their man-made doctrine?

I don't need to answer that question. Jesus already did.

No comments:

Post a Comment