Once when I was in college, I made a horrible mistake. I’d just started going out with a girl and as we were getting to know each other, I accidentally called her by another girl’s name…a friend from back home that I went to high school with. Needless to say, that relationship didn't work out.
It’s important to call people by their actual name. The same is true in life; we need to be accurate in how we label important events, dates, things, and relationships. If you’re diagnosed with cancer, it’s important that the doctor doesn't call it the flu.
With this in mind, I’m reminded again as we enter the holiday season of how quickly Christians can become offended when people, knowingly or unwittingly, refuse to use the term or the greeting, “Merry Christmas.” Much has been made in years past of how there’s a conspiracy afoot to mislabel and intentionally rename the Christian holy day of Christmas by removing the “Christ” in Christmas and just sticking with the generic word “holiday.” And I get it. I’ve witnessed our culture drift further away from it’s Judeo-Christian roots than I ever dreamed it would, and as our nation grows in diversity and ethnicity, some Christians can feel like they’re being attacked at every turn.
Yet I’d like to offer a different perspective. Instead of always seeing ourselves as the victims, let’s remember that we are actually the victors. We don’t trample our enemies by forcing them to say “Merry Christmas” or scorning them when they say “Happy holidays.” Christians, like Christ, defeat their enemies by turning them into friends, by loving them and showing them patience, grace, and kindness. Truth be told, we shouldn’t even think in terms of “defeating” any enemy other than Satan. Paul told the church in the ancient city of Corinth that our battle was not against people with flesh and blood, but against spiritual darkness and deception.
I’ve found that when Christians are easily angered and offended by small, insignificant issues like this one, we lose our focus on being the tangible representation of the gospel to those who are lost. Un-churched Americans shake their heads in disbelief that we would get so bent out of shape over “Christmas” or “holiday” when our country has so many more essential problems we should be concentrating on; poverty, human trafficking, abortion, and the disintegration of the family. The church should lead the way on these issues, not get bogged down in needless arguments (especially on Facebook or 24 hour news programs).
And if you really want to get technical, our modern English word “holiday” is a form of the original “holy day.” So whether you say “Christmas” or “holiday” you’re still acknowledging the birth of our Savior. But does it really matter? Honestly?
A better perspective is to make sure that Jesus has the proper place in my heart, not just on my lips. I should be more concerned about whether He reigns in my life than whether or not His name appears on the marquis outside the shopping mall during Christmas. I think Jesus is more concerned about being Lord of our lives than being a title thrown out flippantly during the “holidays.”