It's ironic that a country that finds itself uncomofrtable wishing each other "Merry Christmas" eagerly awaits "holiday" retail sales figures, in order to determine whether there is some light at the end of this recession's tunnel.
It's ironic that a country that places the phrase "In God We Trust" on its currency, doesn't.
It's ironic that those in a country demanding tolerance, are the least likely to offer it.
In case you are wondering, I'm not one of those "Religious Right" types. However, I do believe that the Bible is reliable, and tells us the story of God's ongoing effort to engage in a relationship with mankind. I believe that Jesus, as described in that Bible, was the Son of God. I believe that His unimaginable death on a cross was for the propitiation for the sins of everyone, everywhere, for all time. And I believe that all we have to do for that salavation is to claim it. We do that through a simple prayer of repentance and confession of faith in Jesus.
The evidence I rely on is twofold. I rely on the documentary evidence of the Bible. I read it regularly and it always comes through for me. It has never failed me. The guidance it provides me has never steered me wrong. And I believe on the evidence of my changed life. I know what I was like before I accepted Jesus as my savior, and I know what I'm like now. It's as simple as that. In the law, we call it "direct evidence"; it's the most persuasive evidence. It's not hearsay, it's something I have personally witnessed myself.
And so, I wish my Christian friends and non-Christian friends a Merry Christmas. I'm honoring the birth of Jesus. I don't know whether He was born on December 25th. But I'm just thankful that we, as a country, take some time each year to honor Him. Despite the current interpretation of the Establishment Clause, we honor Him. Despite the folks who hate Christians and what they stand for, we honor Him.
I think it's just as silly to be offended by "Christmas" as it is for Christians who are offended, for example, by Halloween. Satan is real; demons are real, and I take them very seriously. But my children go "trick or treating" every year. It's just part of the landscape.
I have dear Jewish friends. I have celebrated the Passover, on occasion, with them. I admire their faithfulness to the principles and tradition of the Passover. I have Hindu friends, who have alters in their homes honoring multiple divine beings. I admire their faithfulness. Obviously, I subscribe to a different set of beliefs. I might share these beliefs with my friends, if the opportunity presents itself. I would share the "Good News" about Jesus (as it's referred to in the Bible), just as I would share anything good with my friends. But I would never, ever be offended because they happen to believe something different.
At the same time, because I follow Jesus, I believe that everything He said was true. Certainly, words are subject to interpretation. And Jesus spoke frequently in parables, that require interpretation. But certain of Jesus' words are pretty much subject to only one interpretation. For example, Jesus' said: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6). This is pretty absolute, as were many of Jesus' words. So, when I say that I believe Jesus was (and is, because he was resurrected and ascended into Heaven) God, by definition, I believe he is "one God". And that definition excludes other gods.
But this isn't a case of "my God is better than your god." I absolutely believe that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs. And I believe that everyone is entitled to share those beliefs. That's what the First Amendment is about. And perhaps that's where we as a country have taken a wrong turn. Some Christians, rather than sharing the Good News about Jesus out of love, have done so in a way that appears to pass judgment. I'm not passing judgment; only God can do that. I just want to share what I know with you.
So, when I wish you "Merry Christmas", I certainly don't intend to offend you. Instead, I am celebrating the birth of a Man that I believe came to this planet for a very special purpose. But even if you believe that Jesus was merely "a great teacher", he has a birthday nonetheless. So celebrate it with me.
Merry Christmas to all my readers, friends and colleagues. I hope this season brings you much joy and peace.