One wonders why there are so many people in America who seem so offended at a simple greeting like, “Merry Christmas.” While talk show hosts rant about the “Attack on Christmas,” by big chain stores, school boards, and the ACLU, others wonder what in the world is so offensive about a seasonal greeting steeped in tradition like, “Peace on earth, good will towards men.” After all, we’ve been fed many lines over the decades that Christmas is about love, and family, and unity, and peace.
I suggest that our leftist friends have finally realized what Evangelicals have been saying all along—love and family and unity and peace are all well and good, but they have little to do with the core of Christmas. I think it is for this reason that the anti-Christmas crowd has rushed in its anti-Christian fervor to suppress the holiday—because its real meaning is making a real difference in society the other 364 days out of the year.The commercial-fed line on Christmas for many years has been “Peace on earth, good will towards men.” But if the secularists are right and Christmas really is about “peace on earth and good will toward men,” yet they are trying to minimize or eliminate Christmas, then they have some ‘splainin to do.
The words “peace on earth” come from the story of Jesus Christ’s birth in Luke 2:14. The problem is that only half the verse is quoted for holiday celebrations. The full verse actually reads: “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth among men with whom God is pleased.” The first implication, and later what becomes direct statements in the New Testament is that God is not pleased with most men. The second implication is that God came to earth in the form of a man to do something about it. Let’s drive this home more directly. Christmas, that is, the birth of Jesus Christ, is about three things:
- The Incarnation: God became a man in Jesus Christ
- The Humiliation: God experienced death as a man
- The Exaltation: God experienced resurrection as a man
The fact is that there would be no Christmas without Easter. Easter gives Christmas it’s meaning. Without the death and resurrection of Jesus, what would his birth matter to us? His claim to incarnation would be nothing more than unproven words. If Jesus really is God in human flesh, if he really did suffer a humiliating death He could have prevented through the exercise of his deity, and if he really did rise from the dead never to die again, then Christmas is a lot more than “Peace on earth,” and a year-end boost for the economy. It is about the reason for His incarnation in the first place.Christmas is about our sin.Christmas (the real Christmas) is offensive to some because:
- The incarnation of Jesus Christ points to man’s need for a Savior
- The humiliation of Jesus Christ proves man is sinful and in need of a Savior
- The exaltation of Jesus Christ proves the incarnation and requires submission to that Savior
As long as Christmas was regulated to gift-giving and good feelings, saying, “Merry Christmas” wasn’t really a big deal. But as evangelicals have gained greater influence, so has the more important historical meaning of the Christmas season. That meaning is written clearly in the text of the Bible (which the same crowd wants kept out of schools). As the meaning of Christmas, and its year long relevance has become clearer so has the need for some to regulate any reference to it. If its meaning can’t be obscured, then it must be absconded.
I leave you with a passage from the Bible about Christmas. It is not a traditional passage about the Christmas season, but it is the passage that gives us the meaning of Christmas in what may be the plainest language. This passage not only explains the meaning of Christmas, but what is expected of us when we understand that meaning.
”Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Jesus Christ, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason God also highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11 NASB)Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year—which is also another celebration of Jesus’ birth.