Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. - Colossians 4: 5 (NKJV)
Can you feel it in the air? The leaves have changed and are starting fall back down to the earth that spawned them. The breeze has a crisp feel to it. Soon we will have our first snowfall in my neck of the woods and people are making their Thanksgiving Day plans. Unfortunately, this is also the time for another seasonal surety. Somewhere in this country the movement will rise again. The secular jackbooted thugs will come out from their year long hibernation and begin what we loathe oh so deeply in modern churchianity. You know to what I speak. It is time again for the dreaded:
War on Christmas
I hope by now you have detected the sarcasm because I am laying it on pretty thick. There is no war on Christmas beloved and even if there was, who cares? Christians sure ought not to. Let's set the background correctly. This time of year the people who make a living on dividing us against the very people we are supposed to bring the Gospel to scour the land to find any sign that could be leveraged to support the notion that America is turning away from God. One year it might be a town manger scene being removed from Jay City Wisconsin. Another year Wal-Mart instructed its employees to say Happy Holidays to customers instead of Merry Christmas. Somewhere right now I suspect that a middle school has decided to call the annual Christmas tree a "holiday" tree. Oh the horrors!
This year's offenders? The season starts with Starbucks. It seems that Starbucks had the Venti nerve this year to issue its holiday cups without any references to Christmas! No reindeer or Santas. No warm greetings of merriment. Just a plain ole red cup - how offensive! At least to the fake outrage machine that has enlisted so many Christians who do not seem to understand the message of Christ. One such self-proclaimed "evangelist" posted a Facebook rant that went viral. In it he claimed that Starbucks hates Jesus and asked "great Americans" everywhere to go into Starbucks and tell them their name is Merry Christmas, so the poor barista will have to write it on their cup. Then he asked for a selfie to be taken and sent in to him or posted. Wow, evangelism is not the first thing that comes to mind when I hear nonsense like this. Self-promotion is. If you truly do not like the decision made by Starbucks then you have the right as a consumer to not give them your money. Heck, I choose to not give them my money because I need a Starbucks to English dictionary just to order a cup of coffee. No, I don't want a Triple, Venti, Half Sweet, Non-Fat, Caramel Macchiato, I just wanted a coffee!!
But I digress. Back to the alleged war on Christmas. Let me ask Christians everywhere this - do you really think Jesus Christ Himself would celebrate Christmas if He was still here ministering on the earth? It is common knowledge that Jesus was probably born sometime in September based on clues contained within the Gospels. Certainly not in December. Everyone knows that Christmas in December was created to compete with pagan holidays that occurred around the same time. Birthdays in general were not part of the culture of the Old or New Testament. Sure it was a pagan custom. In fact, the only time a birthday is mentioned in the New Testament is when Herod had a party for himself on his birthday and ended up beheading John the Baptist! Hardly a cause worthy of repeating. Wait a minute preacher! Are you saying we shouldn't celebrate birthdays? Of course not. Just stop pretending that Jesus would. That He would condone the mass commercialization done in His name, on a day that is actually nowhere near when He was really born. The second question regarding this fake controversy is this - even if it were true, what did you expect?
The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. - 1Corinthians 2: 14 (NIV)
This is really not too difficult to grasp beloved. The things of God are only discerned by those who have His Spirit indwelling. To the world, the things of God are utter foolishness. They simply cannot understand. They do not embrace Christmas for the sake of a Savior but because it is so much a part of Americana. The same reason they refuse to see the evil of dressing their kids up for Halloween or hunting for eggs instead of celebrating the most important day in history; when Christ overcame the grave! So someone comes along who fancies himself an evangelist and in the name of Jesus, who would not celebrate this day anyway, sticks his thumb in the collective eyes of the very people that need Jesus the most. That is one strange plan for evangelism. I haven't seen one so disturbing since John Hagee preached that all atheists needed to leave "his" country. It reminds me of the time Jesus tried to preach in Samaria but was rebuffed. John and James were outraged:
And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, "Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?"But he turned and rebuked them.And they went on to another village. - Luke 9: 54-56 (ESV)
The Samaritans were at least rejecting Jesus Himself and the Gospel He brought. We are rejecting the unsaved because they want to say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. Not because they hate Christmas but because they are trying to not offend anyone who happens to you know, not be Christian. Yet even in these Scriptures, Jesus rebuked the sons of thunder here because they failed to get the point. We should not be taking offense for the cause of the Gospel is to offend. And what are we taking such grave offense to anyway? Because a company that thinks nothing of charging $4.50 for a 25 cent slice of pound cake decided to go with the red cups this year. This is the face of faux Americanized Christian persecution. At the same time when around the globe people are being martyred for not disavowing faith in Christ, we are showing our faith by whining that our latte cup is not adorned with cross shaped snowflakes.
Lastly, what is supposed to be truly important to us as believers? This faux outrage comes from a mix of poor theology and an idol worship of this country over God. Dominionist theology and America worship permeates so much of modern American Christendom. The truth is we are not called to take dominion over this earth in advance of the second coming of Christ. We are not supposed to influence the seven mountains of culture. We are supposed to be sojourners and pilgrims through this world, not residents. We are supposed to be a peculiar people. We are supposed to come out from among them. We are supposed to be a shining city on a hill not a relevant pit stop on the way to the next sin. The Gospel is supposed to divide, not bring everyone together to be entertained and sing Kumbaya.
"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. - Matthew 10: 34-39 (ESV)
Take up our cross? We won't even take up our Iced, Half Caff, Ristretto, Venti, 4-Pump, Sugar Free, Cinnamon, Dolce Soy Skinny Latte unless it comes in a cup with sleigh bells on it. Beloved this nonsense does not serve the cause of Christ and only comes from Satan. Only the devil can convince Christians to despise the people that we ought to bring the Gospel to over a cup of coffee. What does the key verse today implore us to do regarding those who do not have the salvation we enjoy? Those who are on the outside? Are we supposed to walk in arrogance towards them? Disdain for their not understanding the very things the Bible says are utter foolishness to them? Are we supposed to walk like bullies calling down fire from heaven or demanding they write "Merry Christmas" on the cup so we can take a selfie of it? No. We are supposed to walk in wisdom, redeeming the time. That last part is not some throwaway line either. The time is short. Whatever time is left between now and when Christ returns we are supposed to be in the business of redeeming it. Not wasting it away on the fake moral outrage of our delicate Christian sensibilities. If you want to boycott Starbucks because their holiday cups aren't served to you by little elves walking on trails of tinsel while singing Silent Night to you, knock yourself out. Just stop pretending it has anything to do with Jesus Christ.