Russell Moore penned a wonderful article on December 6, 2012 (“Is the Culture at War with Christmas?”) that addresses an issues so evangelical Christians struggle with. Here’s how he opens:
Flipping through magazines on an airplane the other day, I found myself sighing with irritation. An advertisement for Budweiser was tagged with the headline, “Silent Nights are Overrated.” A few minutes later, in a second magazine, I came across an ad for a high-end outdoor grill, which read: “Who says it’s better to give than to receive?”
My first reaction was one that I’ve critiqued in others, to take some sort of personal, or at least tribal, offense: “Would they advertise in Turkey during Ramadan with the line, ‘Fasting is Overrated?’ or by asking in India, ‘Who says everything is one with the universe?’”
I was missing the point—and that matters.
His point is that most folks are simply not aware of what “Silent Night” means that that he doubts advertisers traced the origins of the song to the awe of the incarnation, or that the quote of “better to give than received” was seen in the New Testament as a quote from Jesus.
I am not sure how well our witness for Christ moves forward when we get frustrated and express this frustration to workers at Best Buy who may wish a Happy Holidays rather than a Merry Christmas! For the majority, I do not even think Christ is on their radar—and at least they are being friendly by saying something “Happy.”
Rather than get offended, use it as a glorious opportunity. Moore closes:
All that means is that we need to spend more time lovingly engaging our neighbors with the sort of news that shocks angels and redirects stargazers and knocks sheep-herders to the ground. That it seems increasingly strange is all the better—because it is strange. A gospel safe enough to sell beer and barbecue grills is a gospel too safe to make blessings flow, far as the curse is found.
Christmas, then, isn’t about a fight for our right to party. It’s a reminder that we, like every generation before us, live in a “land of deep darkness” (Isa. 9:2). The darkness isn’t overcome by sarcasm or personal offense or retaliatory insults. The light of Bethlehem shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not, cannot, will not overcome it.
Read the rest—and subscribe to his blog. The man loves Christ, loves the church, and helps us think about things we thought we’d already thought through, but hadn’t.