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Christmas Thoughts: Happy Holidays and the Kingdom of God

21 Dec

A few months ago, my friend and fellow blogger (the one who inspired me to start, actually), Bill Moore, got me thinking about the culture war.  In his post, Conscientiously Objecting to the Culture War, he talked about the American Christian war for the American Culture (which somehow adopted Bill O’Reilly as it’s mascot…or he adopted himself as the mascot…who knows?).  I used to be all about this.  Our need to claim moral authority on our society.  Bill (Moore) challenged me to rethink my focus.

What do we prove to the world at large with our letter writing campaigns to reality shows about questionable “stars”?  What do we gain by refusing to shop in stores that somehow, through the process of being guilty by association, may promote something we disagree with (not talking major things here)?  What do we gain by fighting against gay marriage (I know I may get some backlash on this one)?  What do we gain by only being willing to vote for a Christian into elected office?  What do we gain by waging war against “Happy Holidays” replacing “Merry Christmas?”  I know all of these have room for debate, but I am asking what do we gain by these?

Do we gain sinners realizing that their only hope for life and acceptance by God is through Jesus Christ on the cross and his resurrection?  Do we gain people battling their way out of poverty?  Do we gain a decrease in children without families?  Do we gain people taking care of other people?  Do we gain the Kingdom of God?  Do we?  These are what we have been called to find important as Christians.  These are the hills we should be choosing to “die on.”

Of these things, I am going to focus on the whole “Happy Holidays” thing…it is, afterall, Christmas.

Is it really that important that everyone says, “Merry Christmas?”  Is it really?  Is there a need for all people, Christian and nonChristian alike to wish everyone a happy Christ’s Mass?  I am not so sure.  Besides, it is being placed with a word that means “Holy Days,” isn’t that enough for us?

The Spirit has really led me to some new thoughts on this recently.  I have been thinking a lot about Christmas, the traditions, and the commericialization of it (thus the Christmas thoughts posts), and something occurred to me.  There really is a Christmas spirit…or Holiday spirit.  Now, I am not saying we should be caught up in the warm-fuzzy Christmas and forget the true meaning of it…another post for another day…but there really is a “spirit” about this time of year that most people get caught up in, no matter how religious or non-religious.

This “spirit” has a way of changing people…there is a reason why “A Christmas Carol” has been so popular for so very long.  It is a true change that people feel.  People become nicer.  They think of others first.  They help the needy.  They feed the poor.  They care for the orphans.  They look out for the widows.  They help the down and out.  Hey, this sounds a lot like the list of stuff that Christians are supposed to be doing!

Christians are supposed to be about the Kingdom of God.  Wayne Grudem in his Systematic Theology book, says that the Kingdom of God is when the reign and rule of God in the hearts and lives of people.  A part of this is how we care for others.  Jesus himself said that there are two commandments: Love God and love one another.  How we care for others is half of the job.

So, this Christmas/Holiday “spirit” has people all around us thinking and loving their “neighbors” as themselves.  In a way, we are seeing what God’s Kingdom here on Earth will look like, at least a little.  People are caring for each other.  This is important to God.  Look in either the Old or New Testaments.  God wants us to care for others like we are compelled to at Christmas.

I say whether you say “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas,” it doesn’t really matter.  The question is, “Are we taking care of each other, especially the down-and-out?”  Are we?  Where is our focus?  Ourselves?  Or is it on using this “Christmas spirit” as a way to reach out to others and help them see the true meaning of Christmas?  Are we living a life that shows Jesus, even at Christmas?  Or are we busy fighting a battle that should not be fought, while those saying “Happy Holidays” are living out what we are called to?

Happy holidays, everyone!!  Joe

Father, Jesus, Spirit, please help me to pick the right battles this year.  Help me to see that it is about loving you and loving others.  Thank you for allowing the “Christmas spirit” to show us your Kingdom.  Please help me to use this to reach out and tell other people about the source of this “spirit.”  I love you.  Your son and dependent, Joe

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6 responses to “Christmas Thoughts: Happy Holidays and the Kingdom of God

  1. wordsfromwise

    December 22, 2011 at 12:00 am

    Love Grudem’s Systematic Theology book…. it always helps to clarify things.

     
    • ragamuffinjoe

      December 22, 2011 at 6:44 am

      I have had the book for years, since my religion classes in college. I hadn’t looked at it probably since that time until I took a class at church. I love it. It cleared up so much for me. The Kingdom of God thing that I referenced was such an eye opener. It made the New Testament references to the Kingdom make sense. That is why the Kingdom of God can be near but far away (future). It is why it is here, yet not here yet. The rule of God is in the hearts of Christians, but one day it will be a reality for everyone.

       
      • ragamuffinjoe

        December 22, 2011 at 12:18 pm

        Mega dittos, Bill.

         
  2. Bill Moore

    December 22, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    One of your best Joe, I have been thinking these same things this year. Funny how we track so closely sometimes. For me it is the campaign to keep Christ in Christmas. Why do we need to keep Christ in Christmas? Has someone taken him out? How is that even possible since without Christ there is no Christmas? The two can’t be seperated, they are linked for all eternity. That’s why I think what my KCIC friends are really worried about is the loss of the aesthetic trappings of the season.

    I understand where they are coming from since I love those things as well, but I ask them to consider this. If you take away the trees, the gifts, the lights, the shopping, the overeating and the occasional “Merry Christmas” from a gas attendant, or cashier what would we really have lost? I humbley submit that we would have lost nothing! in fact I think we all would have gained a new focus and understanding of the true meaning of Christmas as all the commercial distractions would have been swept away. Without these things we are free to celebrate and reflect on the wonderous gift that was given to all man-kind.

    The Divine, in the flesh, with all the vulnerability that comes with being an infant. Imagine the creator of the universe with a poopy, in need of a diaper change! imagine the Holiest of Holies surrounded by the stench of animal feces and urine! This is the strange way Jehovah chose to save the world!

    I for one do not fear the death of Christmas for when the King of Kings and Lord of Lords regins in your heart, everyday is a Holyday and it is impossible to celebrate Christmas without Christ.

    Noel! Noel!

     
  3. Charlie

    December 22, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    I agree with Bill, one of the nest yet I’ve read (and they e all been quite good). Very well said and plenty for me to continue chewing on throughout the holiday season! Thanks for taking the time to write brother!

     
    • ragamuffinjoe

      December 22, 2011 at 5:19 pm

      Thanks, Charlie. I am glad to keep you on your spiritual toes. 🙂

       

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