The Christmas Challenge

by James E. Cossey, Executive Administrator

American Christians have no trouble celebrating Christmas—we do it in great style.
From the tinsel and trees to the lights, lace, lavish gifts, and festival dinners, we love this holiday. The challenge is for us to not lose sight of the true reason for the season.

Celebration is certainly in order since the angels themselves celebrated the first
Christmas (Luke 2:8-­‐11) with the announcement of Christ’s birth! Nothing can be too ornate or extravagant for the King! Our challenge is not one of not celebrating, but one of how we will go about it as we do.

Don’t Leave Him Out
Can you imagine a party on your birthday with everyone invited and participating except you? Rarely would a celebration for a birthday be given to one who could not be present or who at least could not be formally recognized at the party. Yet it is possible to do the “Christmas thing” without any recognition of Jesus, and without Him even being invited to the party. Don’t forget who the guest of honor is for the celebration.

At our house, there will be lights—lots of them. Myrlene has the house decorated to
the ceiling! There will be more food than we can eat, gifts for everybody including the dog, as well as trees, tinsel, and hopefully some mistletoe! But there will also be the Christmas Story from Luke 2, and prayers, and quotations about the birth of Jesus and the meaning of the manger. There will be family, friends, and most of all…faith—faith in Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of the Father, who was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.

Don’t Get Sidetracked
Each year, I am more and more concerned about Christians who allow ourselves to get onto bandwagons of protest and complaint against the various maladies of our culture. There will be those who will leave off Christian symbols, and some who insist on saying, “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” What will we accomplish if we protest? Sure, our protest will show that we are not ashamed of Jesus, but will it demonstrate His love? Might it be better to season the bitter with a sweet response like, “Merry Christmas to you too,” and move on? I think so. Sometimes we can weaken the validity of our witness for Jesus by the tone of our witness for Jesus (think on that for a moment). Remember that our mission is the Great Commission. We are not called to change the culture (we are not called to adapt to it either!!); we are called to penetrate the culture with the life-­‐changing gospel of Christ. Our goal should not be to merely show the culture how wrong it is, but how right Christ is…and how much they need Him! We call that evangelism.