“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” echoes through department stores and announces in commercial after commercial that Christmas is just around the corner once again. Catchy little calendars count down the days as we peruse our online habitats daily underscoring the message, Christmas is coming! Black Friday looms before us as the date the American retail frenzy will descend on the day after the Thanksgiving holiday. Three days later sees Cyber Monday when the whole focus shifts online.
What also descends on our fair land is the war on Christmas! From nativity scenes to Christmas school programs. From worrying about saying “Merry Christmas” in public to the efforts at rewriting Christmas carols so no one is ever possibly just remotely offended. Can you say, “Tis the Season for Censorship!” Being offended has now become the norm, being offended has become fashionable. It’s now the default response whenever we hear something we don’t like. Hear my heart here, I am in no way overreacting; this concerted effort is about much more.
We now find ourselves in a moment when the Freedom from Religion Foundation works tirelessly to take away the religious freedom we all have Constitutionally guaranteed to every American. From my friends at Alliance Defending Freedom we have this perspective. “In America, the Founding Fathers were clear that separation of church and state does not equal secularism; instead, the government cannot create a national church and demand fealty to it under threat of punishment. The Establishment Clause does not eliminate religious expression from the public square or mandate that public leaders purge their expression of religious convictions. Here’s where Americans got confused: we think that “separation of church and state” in the Establishment Clause must mean “secularism” as we see in Europe, so obviously, Linus can’t quote Scripture in a public-school play and a city-sponsored Nativity scene is a violation of the Establishment Clause… The heritage of the American Revolution and the Founding Fathers means that the Linus character can quote Scripture in a public-school play…”
Could it be as a nation we have not only forgotten who we were, who are founders intended us to be? I find it interesting that when Jesus came the first time in a manger, those who should have known and recognized him were nowhere to be found, but strangers from a far land and simple shepherds were invited to share in this miraculous moment. I have no desire to forget our founding principles or the true meaning of Christmas. This perhaps may offend some, but the truth always has.
This season of the year tells the story of the incarnation, the story of a loving God who came to this world as a savior. What’s so offensive about that, you ask? Everything! You see in addition to being wonderful, glorious and the most amazing demonstration of God’s love the world has ever know, it is an indictment of every child of Adam’s race. He had to come because we were lost! This act of love say’s we are wrong, we have sinned, we have fallen short of God’s design.
In John’s gospel Jesus stated that “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Jesus said you can’t fix this yourself, you can’t do this on your own, He, “Jesus”, is the only path to God. Not everyone likes to be told they are wrong, that they have missed it, and that they can’t do it themselves. Doug Powell writes, “At a time when Christianity in America has been so focused on seeker-sensitive services and has gone to great lengths not to offend anyone, Christians have forgotten a very important truth: the Gospel is offensive.
In fact, if the offensiveness of the Gospel is removed then there is no Gospel left. Without an understanding of what we need to be saved from we would never recognize or even look for a savior. For Jesus to come into the world as a savior without offending anyone makes no sense. Jesus didn’t come into the world as a good example; he came to do what we could not do for ourselves. A drowning man must understand his circumstance accurately to recognize the hand that will pull him to safety and give him a reason to grab it. The offensiveness of the Gospel is what makes it Good News since it reveals what we are saved from and why we need a savior, as well as who that savior is.”
Paul wrote, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The greatest act of love, the greatest gift ever given and the greatest opportunity ever afforded confronts us truthfully and though we bristle as we come face to face with truth we are presented with the optioned to be forgiven, transformed and made new! That’s the message that a secular culture wants to silence. In reality it’s not a war on Christmas, but a war against the message of Christmas, and that must never be silenced!
Tim Throckmorton is the Midwest Director of Ministry for the Family Research Council in Washington.