In case you missed it, there’s apparently a war on Christmas again this year. Social media is flooded with Christians bemoaning the fact that the unbelieving world has supposedly hijacked this holy day, taking Christ out of Christmas. Maybe I’m just being overly cynical, but why are we surprised when an unbelieving world does not acknowledge Christ at Christmas? Do they ever acknowledge him? Christ and his word have been abandoned by our culture a long time ago. So the unbelieving world may not speak much this time of year about the birth of the Savior, but the unbelieving world has never spoken of the birth of the Savior. Those words have been given to the Church, given to us as God’s people to speak. We are the only ones who have the ability to take Christ out of Christmas. Take stock of your own home. How many Christian kids across the country know about Rudolph and Frosty and the Grinch but have no idea what an Advent wreath is? Is it government or retailers who have taken Christ out of Christmas?
Even more significantly, I often wonder why we are so desperate to see the celebration of our Lord’s incarnation validated by a culture that rejects him at every turn? Why do we want television stations and retailers to wish us a merry Christmas one minute when we know full well that the very next they will continue to produce movies, shows, and music that run completely contrary to our Lord’s Word at every turn?
To me, it seems a simple and obvious truth that the unbelieving world does not understood Christmas. How could it? It never has, all the way back to the first one. There in Bethlehem was born the Savior of the Nations, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Yet there was no parade. No city officials or governors or kings or emperors were there to greet his arrival. He was instead greeted with the stink of the barn yard, by donkeys and cows and camels and whatever other animals were unceremoniously forced to share their lodging with the source of their very existence. The unbelieving world missed the first Christmas, and it’s missed every Christmas since. But why should that surprise us? Our Lord has never shown much interest in the world’s opinion. He was never swayed by the pretensions and accolades of his creation. He has never sought approval and acceptance from the popular crowd. He rather goes about the business of being savior, whether the kings of this world revere him or not.
What a comfort this provides for us. Even as the ancient world ignored the first Christmas, God was doing something great. Even as the world today ignores Christmas, God is doing something great. Even as the world today mocks the Church and belittles us for believing in what it considers superstition, our God is doing something great. Bethlehem was a no nothing, Podunk, backwater town of little to no significance to the Roman Empire, yet from there was born one who is to be ruler in all Israel. The world views us as being as insignificant as Bethlehem. We are labeled as ignorant simpletons for holding to the truth of our Lord’s Word. But where would the world have us turn? To the opinions of politicians? Celebrities? Professional athletes or musicians? The world eagerly dinks in these opinions as if they were the Gospel truth, all the while rejecting the true Gospel as antiquated, outdated, and old fashioned. We who continue to believe it are held in no regard. But you, O People of the Living God, though you are considered least among the people of earth, from you comes forth something great, the truth of Salvation.
So let the unbelieving world have its own commercialized holiday season. They cannot take Christ out of Christmas, not while there are still Christians all around the world today gathered around our Lord’s Word. The world cannot take Christ out of Christmas, for neither Christ nor Christmas belongs to the world. And even though the world is not impressed with us, take comfort in knowing that our Lord has never been one to cater to the world’s ideas of greatness. He used Bethlehem as the beginning of your salvation, and we know how that turned out. Likewise, he has historically and will continue to use unimpressive people like us to bring the news of that salvation to a world that doesn’t think it needs to hear it. Our Lord is not obsessed with the ever changing opinions of a sinful world. Let us find our own peace in the promise of his word