The holiday season is here and the madness has begun.
All around town Christmas decorations are going up and the bleak winter landscape has taken on a festive air. Some shoppers are already in the spirit of the events and are happily purchasing their gifts while exuding joy and contentment.
Other shoppers, not so much so. They are already grumpy and complaining about long lines, inadequate store staffing, and overpriced poorly made merchandise.
Add to all of that the crazies that have taken over the highways and, yes, it is madness indeed.
The stress of the season has already begun to take its toll on unsuspecting and absent-minded people. I call them absent-minded because they have forgotten what it is all about – what this season heralds and why we celebrate with such joy and enthusiasm. We give too much, we eat too much, we laugh too loudly, and we love unconditionally – all because of Jesus.
I won’t get into the debate of whether or not December 25 is Christ’s actual human birthdate, because for me, it doesn’t make any difference. Long ago it was determined that this is the date that we will commemorate His arrival and I don’t have any argument with that. Believers around the world celebrate this date as the birth of Jesus and it is the biggest birthday celebration ever! What makes it so exciting is that even non-believers will be celebrating without even realizing that they are paying homage to the King of Kings. They join in the merriment with gift giving and party-going and family celebrations without ever giving a thought to why or what they are celebrating. That also makes no difference to me. The more, the merrier!
In the midst of all of my decorating and shopping and cookie-baking and present-wrapping and merry-making I am keenly aware of the troubles in the world around us. There will always be troubles until the Lord returns and I focus on praying for those affected rather than on letting the troubles dampen my mood. Today, however, I found myself grieved over a situation and no amount of cookie-baking was going to help.
There have always been and will always be people in the world who are hateful and hurtful to those who are having a good time. Whether they are jealous or simply mean-spirited, I do not know but it can stretch my ability to love my neighbor in entirely new directions.
During this season the enemy is using individuals who profess to be educated and take great pride and pleasure in sharing their knowledge and experiences with others, using social media as their outlet, denigrating the beliefs of Christians around the world and blatantly denouncing our right to celebrate the holiday as we choose. They know best, according to the words they are spouting, and the manner in which they talk down to those who disagree reminds me of many encounters with liberals down through the years. Mind you, they celebrate the holiday season. They don’t have a problem with that. They just have a problem with Christians celebrating Jesus. They cannot abide our spiritual celebration and rebut any Holy Scripture reference with anger and venom.
Let me encourage you in the Lord to set aside the natural reaction to engage such people in verbal combat and instead, let a soft answer turn away wrath. Let the love the Christ permeate your being to such a degree that such people are drawn into your circle of light. During this season, let’s join together to love our neighbors with the same love that Christ love’s us. Remember – even when we were at our most vile, He loved us and called us to Himself. Perhaps this season, He is calling them, too!