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Christians Can't Be Silent At Christmas

12/08/2005

The Nativity by Federico Barocci (1597).

"Peace on earth, good will toward men," they used to say this time of year. Now the prevalent line seems to be, "I'm offended!"

A very small, but very loud, group of people have decided to further erect a wall of separation between spirituality and daily life through a secularist agenda to change Christmas into anything but a religious holiday. On talk radio, one atheist proclaimed, "The [winter] solstice is the reason for the season!"

Many stores have removed all references to baby Jesus, the Virgin Mary, wise men, shepherds, and other traditional imagery. In some stores, workers have been instructed to refrain from saying a simple, "Merry Christmas," to store patrons. Schools are threatened with legal action if they allow songs or scenes with religious overtones. The situation, frankly, is ridiculous.

Understandably, many Christians have reacted strongly to this infringement on a holiday that has always been an integral part of American life. Unfortunately, a few responses have lost the "Christmas spirit" and become offensive themselves.

So what is the proper response to the secularization of Christmas (or should I say, "the holidays")? While the situation is nowhere near the persecution that early Christians suffered, the harassment is real and warrants our attention.

Those who celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday can look to their early counterparts who suffered harsh persecution for their beliefs. The authorities in Jerusalem (many of them religious rulers) demanded that Christians not speak at all.

Christ's disciples Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard." (Acts 4:18-20)

A few sentences later, the records tell us, "With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all." (Acts 4:33)

So the precedent exists for Christians to openly speak of the miracles of Christ. Presumably, that would include the virgin birth, healings, changed lives, crucifixion and resurrection. Regardless of the level of disapproval -- from outright persecution to modern intellectual disdain -- followers of Jesus Christ have no overarching compulsion to hide in silence. God never encouraged closet Christianity.

In balance, the testimony must always be accompanied by grace, which Merriam-Webster defines as "dignified or restrained beauty of form, appearance, or style." Translation: When a department store worker says, "Happy Holidays," a Christian may wish to warmly reply, "Merry Christmas." But it should be spoken gracefully, not shouted, and accompanied with a smile, not a sneer.

In truth, Jesus is the reason for the season and there's no reason to ignore that fact. At the same time, Christmas is the story of God extending love to mankind and those who follow Him should always follow His example.



Author: James Robison

Word Count: 470

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, an international humanitarian aid ministry; host of the television program, Life Today; and author of The Absolutes.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at jamesrobison.net

Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.

 

 



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