Have you noticed that there is a war on Christmas? This war is getting more intense as time goes by. Currently, this war is being fought in the philosophical/political realm by many (not all) of the mind-molders in higher education, media and government. That’s no surprise. It was the same way in Jesus’ time too.
Remember the story of the three wise men in the Bible? They came from the East, with great treasures, being led by a star. On their way they talked with the government leader of that time in Judah. His name was Herod. The wise men inquired, “Herod, where is the Messiah? We came to worship Him.” Herod was terrified and most of Jerusalem as well. Herod found out from the high priests that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. The prophet Micah had prophesied that many years ago.
Herod instructed the wise men to report to him where the Messiah was when they found Him. Herod wanted to kill the Christ child. After the wise men found Christ and worshipped Him, they were warned in a dream not to report back to Herod. They left another way. Joseph, Mary’s husband, was warned in a dream to take his family and to flee to Egypt.
Here comes the war on Christmas. Herod flew into a rage when the wise men tricked him. Here comes a true, historical fact. Herod sent soldiers to Bethlehem and commanded the murder of every boy two years old and under in the area. Jeremiah had prophesied this event years earlier. Joseph did not return to Israel until after Herod died.
Great things seldom come without great cost. Great things require change. We don’t like that very much. Great things like Christmas threaten our agenda. Great things like Christmas disturb the signs on our doors that say: “Leave me alone. I’m living happily ever after.”
But great things like Christmas have the potential to take us to where we could never get to on our own. The truth is the Herod in all of us says, “This is too much, stars and wise men from the East, a virgin having a baby in a manger in Bethlehem, the Messiah…this is going to mess up what I have built up…gotta control this…it’s not in my agenda.” And the Jerusalem around us says... “Amen.” A few influential people in the name of the people took the freedom and lives of many people because of fear, hubris and misguided intellect.
My favorite author and licensed counselor, Craig D. Lounsbrough, describes the current Christmas this way. “Yes, without reservation Christmas is that bold, that magnificent and that wonderful. And because it is, we cherish it but we often walk in dread fear of it. We want greatness, but we prefer it tamed and on a leash short enough for us to control it, yet long enough to allow it to retain some remote yet diminished flavor of greatness.
We want to feel the tug of Christmas and find ourselves elated by the wonder and captivated by the mystery of whatever wonderful destination it might be prompting us toward. Yet, we want to have the leash firmly in hand should the destination that God is calling us to prove too obscure or too frightening or just too much. We want the parts of Christmas that send exciting shivers up our spines, but we don’t want the parts that prick our fears.
And so we tame greatness, which is in reality to kill it outright. We attempt to hold the rich essence intact while we disembowel everything else around it. And so to tame Christmas we spin myths to temper the story, we create our own caricatures to speak our own lines into the script, we gift ourselves to enhance an adventure now lagging, and we think we’re on a grand adventure when we’ve completely forgotten what an adventure is.
I hope that you don’t mind this article. I was pretty direct. But maybe now is the time to wage a war for Christmas rather than on Christmas? After all, Christmas is the greatest, most perfectly complete rescue mission of all time in any time.