Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Afraid of Christmas

Why are people so afraid to wish others a Merry Christmas?  Why are public places wary of displaying a nativity scene among the other ‘holiday’ decorations and images?

The excuses they give vary from a separation of Church and State to a desire to be ‘inclusive’ or ‘non-offensive’.  None of the excuses really stand up to scrutiny- but that is another subject entirely.

I don’t get as bent out of shape as some do with the refrain of ‘happy holidays’ as the season does include Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and New Year.  What gets me is the apparent fear to specifically acknowledge Christmas as one of these annual winter celebrations.

I would propose that this ‘fear’ comes as the result of a different type of fear. 

We read in 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”*

What does this have to do with Christmas?

Christmas is one of God’s expressions of ultimate, redeeming love; a love which is not a cause for fear but for faith and joy. 

When the angel appeared to Mary, his words were “Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30).  When he appeared to Joseph he said, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife” (Matthew 1:20).  And to the shepherds he said, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10). 

What God was doing to bring the Messiah into the world was an act of immeasurable and perfect love, and in this love there was no cause for fear.  Christmas is God’s declaration that He has opened a way out from under the fear of punishment, not by ignoring the offense of sin, but by taking it upon Himself through Jesus: “you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

When a person receives this blessing, fear of God’s judgment is lifted as they recognize that “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).  This release and relief comes as God’s love is “poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). 

We who know Christ are not afraid to face God because we are confident that He has declared us guiltless of sin; that because of Jesus’ sacrifice we are now counted as “the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

This is such good news!  Who would wish to silence this message of God’s love?

If “perfect love casts out fear” then the obvious suspect would be someone who is cut off from this redeeming love of God.  Only such a person could be so afraid of Christmas that they would do anything to keep it silent. 

The culprit is no less than satan himself.  Through his own rebellion he has forfeited God’s love and for him only dreadful punishment remains, a fact which fills him with intense fear.

We read: “the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).  Jesus will ‘crush the head of the serpent’ (Genesis 3:15) and cast him into the Lake of Fire to be destroyed (Revelation 20:10).  Satan is deathly afraid because he knows what is coming his way.

Satan desperately wants for Christmas not to be true. 

Scripture tells us that apart from those saved through Jesus, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19).  Satan expresses his own fear through those humans under his influence.  And so he ‘inspires’ ‘scholars’ and critics to declare Christmas a myth and a fable and would see Christmas silenced. 

If Jesus did not really exist, or if He was just a man born in the natural way; if the miracles associated with His birth are fables and if He died without rising back to life again, then there would be no reason to fear Christmas.  Christianity would be just one drop among many in the ocean of religion.  Perhaps he thinks if he can rid the world of Christmas he can escape or delay his punishment. 

But Christmas is true and because it is satan knows his days are numbered. 

For those who refuse to take the word ‘Christmas’ upon their lips and forbid it to be spoken publicly, perhaps they also, deep down, are afraid because Christmas is true.  And if it is, they must come face to face with the fact of sin and judgment.

So rather than get bent out of shape, Christians would do better to recognize the issue for what it is- a spiritual battle.  City councils, retail managers, school administrators are pawns in satan’s losing bid to forestall his own doom. 

Our task is not to fight for some ‘political’ victory in which a nativity scene may be displayed on public property, but to lay claim to spiritual ‘real estate’, taking every opportunity God presents to share the Good News in the hope that the love of God may fill the hearts of those around us and that they may no longer be afraid.

Merry Christmas!  

*Scripture quotes from the English Standard Version