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Putting the Christ Back in Christianity

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For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. - 1Corinthians 1: 18 (NKJV)

The American Family Association is asking Christians everywhere to boycott Pet Smart this Christmas season because their website says Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. Franklin Graham, political activist masquerading as a Christian leader, accuses America of waging a war on Christmas and offers up Pittsburgh changing Christmas to "Sparkle Day" as his proof. "Christian" pundit Todd Starnes reports that the VA refuses to accept handmade Christmas cards for our veterans written by fourth graders. The horror! Political correctness run amok! You can't throw a stone these days without hitting a lawn sign that proudly states it is time to put Christ back in Christmas. Christians everywhere are getting up in arms; boycotting, disparaging, and hurling accusations in the name of Jesus. Sorry to be the wet blanket under the tree but let's all take a big step back and look at what is really going on.

First of all in relation to the holiday itself; I am relatively certain that if Jesus Himself came back today He would not celebrate Christmas. For starters, it is not even close to when He was probably born, which most experts place around late September. Is it not telling however that God in His infinite wisdom chose to not be specific regarding the exact month or date of the birth of Jesus? There are plenty of other times in the Bible where God lets us know exactly when something is happening, yet for the birth of Jesus He is silent. Perhaps God chose this route because He knows our propensity to worship idols over God Himself. The issues is not bowing down to Jesus on December 25th but every other day of the year.

Besides this however, what has Christmas devolved into? It is more a celebration of blatant materialism and the love of the riches of this world than anything resembling the advent. The coming of the Messiah. The reconciliation of God and man. I wrote the other day about a mega church that will have Santa in their lobby before every service at all locations. They will watch movies this December and apply life lessons from those movies. This is an evangelical church mind you. To think Jesus, who preached giving up everything from this world to pick up the cross and follow Him, would be happily participating in Christmas is ludicrous. Now before everyone starts writing me Grinch emails, I am not suggesting that Christians should not celebrate Christmas. Even though the roots are pagan in origin, I like the fact that once a year everyone stops to acknowledge the birth of the Savior of mankind. I think it is an excellent time to witness about Jesus. The point however is to not embrace the holiday over the man. The day is irrelevant. The Man is eternal. The day was determined by the pagan King Constantine to compete with other pagan holidays. The man however can save you from your sins and grant you everlasting life. We need to stop taking our eye off the ball.

Even after we look at the nature of the holiday there is this to consider - the people we keep getting upset with are walking in total darkness. The key verse today reminds us that the message of the cross, which includes the manger by the way, is utter foolishness to those who are perishing. What does that mean? It means that when you accuse someone in the world of waging a war on Christmas, they will think you are a fool. Here is today's really deep theology beloved. It is not the responsibility of the check out girl at Wal-Mart to proclaim Christ! It is not the job of a corporate entity such as Pet Smart, to proclaim Christ! It is not the job of the government to proclaim Christ or ensure that everyone else proclaims Christ! Why in the world would we expect people who view the things of God as utter foolishness to then go around shouting Christ to everyone? It is our job to proclaim Christ! And not this angry divisive Christ that keeps being preached by proponents of the fake war on Christmas. Who would Jesus boycott? Remember:

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. - 2Peter 3: 9 (ESV)

That Wal-Mart cashier we scornfully deride when she says Happy Holidays needs Jesus just like we once did. Our co-worker that makes Ebenezer Scrooge look like Tiny Tim needs Jesus too. The war is not waged upon some mythical holiday that has become the symbol for brash consumerism. The war is waged by Satan upon those who need Christ and the worst part is - he is using us to do his bidding! He uses Christians to denounce the very people we are to bring Christ to. Here's another thing to consider beloved. Most of what you hear is either widely exaggerated or possibly untrue altogether. There are political forces out there that make money from this false notion of a war on Christmas and they have no problem using Christians to further their own ends. Skeptical? Let's look at Sparkle Day and Pittsburgh. This was a story reported on a major network as proof of the war on Christmas and was then picked up and pushed by Franklin Graham. The problem of course is it was untrue. It was true that 15 years ago Pittsburgh had an advertisement campaign to try and drum up business called, "Sparkle Season." As lame a slogan as that may be, it never replaced Christmas and it was as far back as 1994. This story about Sparkle Day replacing Christmas was reported yesterday. As for the Todd Starnes story, it comes from last year at Christmas and it is equally untrue. Starnes, notorious for shifting the truth while proclaiming Christ alleged that the VA was literally disallowing Christmas cards from little kids to wounded vets. What a despicable story if true! As proof, he quoted the VA:

In order to be respectful of our veterans' religious beliefs, all donated holiday cards are reviewed by a multi-disciplinary team of staff led by chaplaincy services and determined if they are appropriate (non-religious) to freely distribute to patients. We regret this process was not fully explained to this group and apologize for any misunderstanding.

Wow, that seems like a pretty damning statement! Starnes then went to twitter to suggest revolution as the answer when he tweeted that our forefathers took up arms against tyranny such as this! Yeah! Christians everywhere should be up in arms! We should be outraged! We should revolt! We should fact check the story however because Starnes lied. Here is the full statement from the VA:

In order to be respectful of our veterans' religious beliefs, all donated holiday cards are reviewed by a multi-disciplinary team of staff led by chaplaincy services and determined if they are appropriate (non-religious) to freely distribute to patients. After the review is complete, the holiday cards that reference religious and/or secular tones are then distributed by Chaplaincy Service on a one-on-one basis if the patient agrees to the religious reference in the holiday card donation. The holiday cards that do not contain religious and/or secular tones are distributed freely to patients across the Health Care System. We regret this process was not fully explained to this group and apologize for any misunderstanding.

Oops. Seems Starnes lifted the qualifying portion out of the VA statement. Turns out the VA was trying to respect the religious beliefs of all of our soldiers; not just the ones who call themselves Christians. This is the other piece of deep theology for today beloved. Not everyone shares our beliefs. I know, that's pretty deep. The issue is what are we called to do with those who do not? Are we called to try and shove our beliefs down their throats? Are we called to file lawsuits against them? Boycott their businesses? It is time for the body of Christ to stop acting like James and John visiting a Samaritan village:

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him.But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem.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: 51-56 (ESV)

Lord that person refused to say Merry Christmas to me - do you want me to call down fire from heaven to consume them? Lord I call fire down from heaven to consume Pet Smart! Beloved this is ridiculous. Does it really matter at the end of the day if someone who does not believe in Christ refused to say Merry Christmas? Better yet, what if they did? Do we walk away happy then even though the person is still going to hell? Hey, at least they acknowledged MY faith. How self-centered and arrogant can we be? If you want to start somewhere, let's start by putting the Christ back in Christianity.

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
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