Monday, December 22, 2014
A BABE IN A MANGER, SANTA CLAUS AND PEACE ON EARTH - GOOD WILL TOWARDS MEN
Christmas time is upon us and people who never give a second thought about Jesus most of the year will be attending cantatas, candlelight services and other events that proclaim the truth of God's love. This time of year, above all others, we, the church, have the opportunity to share our faith to unbelievers. Unfortunately the babe in the manger has been overshadowed by Santa Clause, the message of the cross has been drowned out by calls for "peace on earth and good will towards men." I knew that Santa had stolen Christmas from Christ when my family attended a show at Dollywood a couple of years ago and a little girl in the show got on her knees and prayed to Santa to bring her brother home for Christmas. Pleas for peace on earth are great, but that peace will not be attained until King Jesus establishes his rule.
What are believers to do. On one hand, we do not want to seem like humbugs who hate fun and say stupid things like "Santa is an anagram for Satan..." and on the other hand, it is imperative that we remain rooted in truth and not allow anything to take the focus from Jesus. The best way for me is to not get focused on the baby in the manger, but on the living Word seated at the right hand of the Father. Without the cross and the empty tomb, the manger is meaningless.
Few people oppose to the image of the babe in the manger, as a baby is very non threatening. A baby laying on a pile of hay cannot compete for attention with a large bearded man in a red suit who hands out presents. We cannot force a lost world to ignore Santa Clause and embrace Christ the God/man who died for the world, nor should we. What we can do is share our experience with Christ against the backdrop of the babe in the manger. God's Spirit is gentle and so should we be when dealing with the lost.
Much is said about "keeping the Christ in Christmas" and rightfully so, but we must avoid behaving militantly as doing so can cause more harm to the Gospel message than one hundred Santa Clauses. I make a point of not saying "Happy holidays" and when someone says it to me, I respond "Merry Christmas." I teach my kids that Santa is make believe but am careful to not intrude in other families choice to present Santa as real. As a believer, it is between you and God if you want to lie to your children about Santa and then try to convince them later that Jesus is real, but for unbelievers, there is no conflict. It is far more effective to make a disciple by modeling Christ and sharing my testimony than by attacking the pagan aspects of Christmas.
I am very passionately opposed to the paganism that has become the main focus of most Christmas observances, but that is a conversation reserved for my home and among other believers. With unbelievers, I choose to focus on common ground and find opportunities to lead them to an understanding of their need for salvation. Participating in Christmas is a balancing act, to be sure, but the opportunity to share the truth is greater during this season than any other. Jesus called us to be wise as serpents but gentle as doves.
May the blessings of Christ be yours this Christmas season!
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