I suppose we’ll soon read about retail stores prohibiting employees from saying “Merry Christmas” and about Christians wanting to boycott those stores. I don’t get it; I don’t mean I don’t get the stores’ policy – though I do think it ill considered; I mean I don’t get the Christians.
Firstly, patrons can always wish the employees and management a Merry Christmas…and just maybe they could use some holiday cheer. Or could it be that we’re too timid to say “Merry Christmas” in what we perceive to be a hostile environment? I’ve had many a retail employee respond with a smile to a heartfelt “Merry Christmas”.
Secondly, the world is the world is the world, so what exactly do we expect from the world? Do we believe what the Bible teaches about the world system or not?
Thirdly, why promulgate a negative witness? That is, why use our energy as being against the policies of retail stores when we could be engaged in sharing the Great News of the birth of Jesus? Do we really think that if a commercial enterprise permits its employees to say, “Merry Christmas”, that it is acknowledging the birth of Jesus Christ?
Fourthly, syncretistic civil religion is more dangerous to us than corporate America’s stance on Christmas/holiday greetings. If Christians think that changing a firm’s policy on Christmas greetings is vital then I suggest we’ve been seduced by the idea that the Biblical church and the nation can be philosophically and functionally the same; they cannot be the same. The last time I checked the person who said, “My kingdom is not of this world,” is Jesus Christ.
Remember that I said at the top that I think corporate policies ill considered that prohibit “Merry Christmas”. I do indeed think such policies ill advised; but I think it is more important to be gracious and winsome witnesses for Jesus Christ in a generation, and in a church, that really seems to have no idea what transpired in Bethlehem some two thousand years ago, than to engage in battles of questionable worth. Better for people to know what we are for (Jesus) than to know what we are against.
When is the last time you shared the news of Advent with someone who doesn’t know Jesus?