Today I hope to prepare our annual Christmas card for mailing. I am thankful for the occasion because it is one day of the year that we are able to wish our family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues a Merry Christmas without too much repercussion for actually vocalizing a Christian theme.
No doubt most are aware of the tension during this time of year, should we be brave and greet others ‘Merry Christmas’ or should we kowtow to world culture and say ‘Happy Holidays?’ The recent C.S. Lewis movie, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, highlights unbelieving mankind’s effort to crush out reference to Christ in this world. The Narnians oppressed by the White Witch summarize that her plan is to ‘make it always winter, but never Christmas.’
I read today that the Best Buy store plans to stick with the ‘Happy Holiday’ greeting while Walmart, responding to complaints from last year, has authorized employees to greet customers with a hearty ‘Merry Christmas.’
Frankly we are all showing our ignorance in this discussion because the original meaning of ‘Holiday’ was ‘Holy Day.’ Godly people of centuries past took special ‘Holy Days’ to rest and reflect on God their Creator and Savior. Bing Crosby likely did not have this in view as he sang ‘Happy Holidays.’ ‘Holidays’ have become popular but the meaning has long since been lost and most are glad for taking a rest from work, but have little time for reflection on God our Creator and Savior.
So it would seem that those wishing others ‘Happy Holidays’ are actually being just as offensive as those wishing others ‘Merry Christmas!’ and perhaps even more so, because the ‘Happy Holiday’ greeting should remind everyone of the need to be Holy. ‘Merry Christmas’ could be a more culturally acceptable greeting in this world because it is in fact a pleasant sort of celebration even for unbelievers.
However, the celebration of holiness is hardly welcomed by unbelievers and sadly even some believers. Perhaps the ‘Merry Christmas' wish really is the easy road. In wishing others ‘Merry Christmas’ I am able to appease my guilty conscience by vocalizing Christ’s name to others, yet avoid the often challenging commission to confront my family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues with the offensive cross of Jesus Christ on a daily basis. It is cute to look at a manger holding baby Jesus, but not so cute to see our sin on his bloody cross.
Jesus quoted Isaiah saying,
7) You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, 8) 'These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9) And in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrine rules made by men.'Matthew 15:7-9 (WEB)
I wonder if we Christians do ourselves a favor by trivializing the name of Christ with petty arguments over ‘Happy Holidays’ versus ‘Merry Christmas.’ Do we even advance the gospel a micron by forcing unbelievers to say ‘Merry Christmas?’
This sends us 10 steps backward.
We have reduced understanding the precious mission of Christ and praising his name as Savior to persuading Walmart to say ‘Merry Christmas’ to shoppers! For crying out loud, let everyone call December 25th whatever they want! The real argument to get into is whether Christ is merely on our lips or whether he is deeply rooted in our hearts. For on this point we will either be sentenced to Hell or enjoy paradise with Christ.