December 20, 2016

The Blessings of Christmas Include Freedom

by Donald G. Mashburn

After tripping on their own political correctness in recent years, some of the biggest retailers seemed to have seen the light on what Christmas means to some of their customers. But only after they were smartly “bah-ed and humbugged” by customers who didn’t like the retailers’ avoidance of “Christmas” in their ads and store displays.

Nativity scenes in public places still bring knee-jerk reactions from the intolerant. And in some schools, signs depicting or naming Christ in Christmas plays, students’ drawings, and banners are enough to bring on a case of the vapors for the Christ-intolerant and their supporters. They and their, often unwitting, allies are still trying to hijack the traditional Christmas season.

The hijacking effort continues, and has been facilitated by the commercial orgy that has distorted what Christmas used to mean to most of us. It’s no wonder that in the minds of many students – and, sadly, many adults – the real meaning and substance of Christmas have become blurred.

The more prominent hijackers include atheists and anti-religion groups, supported by the likes of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and their ilk in their efforts to ban any sign of Christ in schools and public places.

But the real substance of Christmas – the Christ of Christmas – is not a banner, a tree, or a manmade display. The real meaning of Christmas is what it means to those who believe that Jesus came from God to die on the cross to atone for our sins and the sins of the world. And one of the many blessings of Christmas is the freedom to believe and worship God as a free people.

They also believe in a Constitutional right to the free exercise of their religion, and they oppose efforts to discriminate against them for doing so. They objected openly to the discriminatory actions of school administrators banning or prohibiting anything with Christian significance, while approving decisions to permit Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Islamic displays.

Christians still feel discriminated against when anti-Christian activists protest hearing or seeing any public display or mention of the name of Jesus. Schools that banned “Merry Christmas” claimed its “religious significance” somehow violated the separation of church and state. A few years back, one school reportedly removed “Christmas” from its calendar so students would not be exposed to the “Christ” part of “Christmas.”

Christian hymns, such as “Silent Night,” can put some school administrators, and a few anti-Christian parents, into a tizzy.

In the liberal world of political-correctness-gone-goofy, “Happy Holidays” fits the season of commercialism better than “Merry Christmas.” But only short years ago, Christmas had special meaning: It was the day we celebrated the coming of the Savior of the world, the Prince of Peace, “Immanuel ... God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)

Those who are cynical and intolerant of the Christ of Christmas should take a close look at this Jesus, who although He Himself was sinless, willingly suffered the agony and shame of the cross for our sins.

And the empty tomb gave irrefutable and timeless testimony that He was who He said He was, the Son of God. And the empty tomb was evidence that God accepted His perfect sacrifice, and that He was worthy in God’s sight to be the Redeemer of imperfect mankind.

This historical, resurrected Christ does not live in the commercial tinsel and glitter of the secularized “Christmas Season.” He lives in the hearts of changed men, women and children whose lives have been transformed by the teachings, life, death and resurrection of the babe born in a manger on that first Christmas night.

His miracles have continued in divinely transformed lives, from the first martyr, Stephen, and the martyred apostles, to those who witness and stand for what’s right today. These changed lives attest to the divinity, power and real meaning of the Christ whose coming we celebrate on Christmas.

Christmas without Christ is empty. Against His life, death and resurrection, the worldly trappings of Christmas fade to nothing. If we see Christmas only as a time to acquire “stuff,” we rob ourselves of the real meaning of Christmas. The stuff acquired at Christmas, and in life, is of no lasting significance – a one-day garage sale will take care of most of it after we’re gone.

The meaning of Christmas is too important to miss: Christ came; He loved us enough to suffer and die for us; and He’s coming again!

In a still free America, Christians are free to believe that, and the anti-Christmas, anti-God types that intimidate can’t change that.