It’s the first day of December and the Christmas wars are already in full swing. You might have enlisted if you:
- correct sales clerks when they say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”
- give your name as “Merry Christmas” when placing a Starbucks order, forcing the barista to call out “Merry Christmas.”
Winning a war is all about conquest. Victory by force. Assertion of power over a weaker opponent.
I’ve searched my experiences and have yet to identify a time when someone berated me into agreeing with them. It’s safe to say that public rebuke is not usually an effective way to influence people to change their mind.
Enter Christmas. The celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace. An annual commemoration of the birth of the One who came to reconcile people to the God with whom they were at war.
Which brings us to the Christmas wars.
- Picture the harried cashier in Toys “R” Us. She hasn’t been to church in decades. She’s been on her feet for six hours and her shift doesn’t end for another two hours. She tells you “Happy Holidays” because that’s what her boss told her to say.
Go ahead—tell her how wrong she is to take Christ out of Christmas. Correct her with an indignant “It’s Merry Christmas, not Happy Holidays!” The next time a friend invites her to church, what do you think her response will be?
- What about the barista at the gourmet coffee shop? The coffee cups don’t proclaim “Merry Christmas.” Force him to say it by telling him your name is Merry Christmas. He’ll write it on the cup and call it out when your order is ready. You’ve won that battle!
But how do you think he’ll respond to the next Christian friend who tries to tell him about the love and grace of Jesus?
Jesus never corrected the Roman pagans about proper religious tradition. If anything, His harshest words were reserved for the religious community, not for unbelievers.
So by all means, wish people a Merry Christmas this season. But let’s not do it with superiority and manipulation. Let’s do it with love and grace. Because these simple conversations will stay with the other person far longer than we realize.
We can talk about Jesus, but are we reflecting Him in more than just our words? When you jostle a full glass of water, what spills out? When you jostle a glass of orange juice, what spills out?
When you jostle a Christian, what spills out?
This season, when you and I are “jostled” with a greeting of “Happy Holidays,” what will spill out? We can exude an odor of condescension or we can leave behind the fragrance of Christ this Christmas season.
Which will you do?