When you Google “Christmas” the search results bring up lots of pictures of Christmas trees, holiday lights and presents. While all of those things are very nice I can’t help but think of what should be there and isn’t – Christ.
I am Jewish. I don’t “believe in Jesus.” Judaism and living in Israel has taught me to look for meaning. It saddens me to look at the Christian world and see instead of meaning – emptiness. It’s sad but it’s also, I believe, dangerous.
Christmas is supposed to be a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and of the promise of redemption, of salvation. More than 2000 years after his birth our society is still undecided on the question if it is all lives that matter or only certain lives that matter. The promise of Christmas was (is!) that all lives matter, that all people, regardless of their rank, gender or race can, through their faith, attain salvation.
It’s shocking that this is still a revolutionary idea.
Christians who consider themselves religious argue amongst themselves about the definition of faith and who has the correct faith. Is Jesus a part of God, the son of God or a man anointed by God? Those who have the wrong belief obviously won’t be “saved”. To me this seems a lot like children who, trying to find favor with their parents, tell mommy/daddy that their sibling did something wrong or forbidden. What about just being the best person you know how to be?
My perspective is that of a Jew. We believe that all people are children of God. Some are wiser than others, holier than others (read closer to God) but all are God’s children. No one man can save someone else’s soul, everyone is responsible for their own soul. In striving to better one’s self a person works towards fixing/saving the world.
If Christians forgot about defining who is the wrong kind of Christian and focused on being the best Christian they know how to be the world would be a vastly different place.
Sunday Christians and those who consider themselves Christian only because they haven’t defined themselves otherwise have forgotten about Christ as a fundamental part of their lives, getting distracted by Christmas trees, decoration, shopping lists and cooking for their families. Good, decent people, completely distracted, so distracted that they don’t notice, don’t care or even go along with those actively working to remove Christ from the holiday celebration.
I am Jewish and I am telling you that if you can’t say “Merry Christmas!” it’s not a “Happy Holiday”! Words shape meaning and if you take the Christ out of Christmas there is no reason to celebrate. Accommodating bullies who want to enforce political correctness isn’t “being nice” it’s allowing the greatest gift ever given to mankind to be taken away: the idea that all people are valuable, all people are loved by God (just some don’t know it), that life is precious. The idea that there is hope for everyone, that redemption is possible is not something to be thrown away lightly.
Anyone who finds these ideas offensive is offensive to me.
When I was in grade school (in Israel), we studied Jesus as a historical figure, a man who changed the course of history. I believe Jesus was a wise Jewish teacher, trying to remind Jews to be better people. I think the birth of a completely new religion might have surprised him but that doesn’t really matter now. Millions around the world believe, or say they believe. As a Jew I am asking you to live what you believe. Stand for what you believe. It is the core principles that matter, the meaning behind the ideas. Everything else is details, don’t get distracted.
The world cannot afford it.
You see, your Christian faith is not just about you. It is about your community too. It is about the homeless in your city, the war veterans abandoned after they came back from the battlefield, about the Christians being persecuted in the Middle East. It is about the Jews everywhere. Gays, Yazidis and everyone, everywhere, who was told that their lives don’t matter.
The fundamental message of Christ is Love. Jesus modeled for his followers love and service to others who his followers thought unworthy (a woman, a sick person etc.). Christmas is about hope for all humanity and love. If you forget about the Christ in Christmas, if you are distracted, arguing about who is the “real” Christian you are not loving yourself, your family or your fellow man. If you forget that Christ is your model then you forget that all people are your “fellow man”, including those who others might consider “unworthy”.
If you get distracted by presents and decorations you are forgetting the true gift that is in Christmas, the preciousness of life and the gift of hope. If you allow the language of Christmas to be taken away by the PC police you are an enabler, allowing hope to be stolen away. I don’t see any difference between those who insist on removing references to CHRISTmas and those who refuse to say that terrorism is about Islam. Both are endangering the freedoms the western world holds precious.
The void in the Christian world that is supposed to be filled with Christ is dangerous. It allows good people to remain indifferent to horrible things. The emptiness and lack of purpose allows negative things to creep in – it is in this void, for example, that the Islamic State is growing. Where the idea that God is Love is fading the idea that God is dominance and forced submission is gaining strength.
Where the light shines bright no darkness can grow. It is for this reason, for your sake and mine, that I am asking Christians everywhere to please put Christ back in to Christmas.