The War on Christmas: An Advent Devotional – Day Eighteen

When I turned on the computer this morning, the headliner on the opening page of my web browser declared the controversy over the supposed “War on Christmas.” For the past several years in the USA, extremists from both the left and the right have been arguing over Christmas/Holiday greetings and all the trimmings that come along with them. Atheists and Christians alike have jumped on the band wagon in ways that are equally not of a festive or merry spirit. And all I can do is roll my eyes at how ridiculous we all have become in striving after this phony theory of entitlement that has gripped our society with such fierceness. Heaven forbid anyone possibly do anything to offend me — whether intentional or unintentional — in their dress, speech, actions, thoughts, blah, blah, blah.

But I find the greeting of “Merry Christmas!” offensive. I don’t celebrate the Christian holiday, so why am I forced to suffer from hearing a cheerful salutation? (Insert sarcasm here.)

I can’t believe that person greeted me with “Happy Holidays!” Don’t they realize Jesus is the reason for the season? I can’t believe I’m forced to be persecuted for my faith in this way. (Insert an equal amount of sarcasm.)

Seriously, things are getting completely out of control y’all.

That said, the war on Christmas is real. Has been since the very first breath of the Messiah was drawn.

I’m not talking about disagreements over Christmas greetings, or whether it is appropriate for towns to have a nativity scene, or whether one should have a Christmas tree, or whether or not to include Santa Claus in your holiday traditions, or any host of disagreements that have arisen over the last decade plus. I’m talking about a full-fledged, all-out, satanic war against the hosts of heaven.

When rumors of Jesus’ birth made their way to the gates of hell, Satan went berserk. Desperate to keep his tight reign of sin and death over God’s beloved, he plotted in the most sinister of ways to snuff out the life of the Savior. Planting seeds that grew and stirred the earthly King Herod’s fear of losing power, Satan unleashed his kingly puppet in hopes of killing the Christ child before He had a chance to grow and fight back:

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time, some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose and we have come to worship him.”
King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”
“In Bethlehem of Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote.”
. . . Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so I can go and worship him, too!”

After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.

After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “I called my Son out of Egypt.”

Herod was furious when he realized the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance. Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: “A cry was heard in Ramah — weeping and great mourning. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted, for they are dead.”
— Matthew 2:1-18

Every male child aged two and under was put to death. Can you imagine?!? A soldier splinters your door and slays your baby in his sleep. A guard rips a child from mother’s arms and runs him through with bloodied sword. Genocide against an entire community’s most innocent of occupants. This is the reality of war on Christmas. This is the world into which Jesus came, a world so set against Him that it wiped out toddlers and babies to try to stop His coming.

And yet He came. Fully knowing the reception He was to receive, and still He came.

Divinity stepped into a society occupied by His archenemy so he could teach us to pray for our persecutors. He was born into a generation crying out for deliverance from despicable atrocities occurring without a moment’s notice, so He could set us free from hate. He came to a people captivated by evil rulers with hateful intent so He could break the bonds of sin and death. He came to a world under siege by satanic powers.

And in this place, He taught us how to love.

From the first inhalation of earthly air to the last gasp of, “It is finished,” Jesus breathed a life of love. And in return, was parried with hate. From the manger to the cross and through the centuries since the resurrection, God’s love continues to battle against Satan’s hate and the lies it ensues. All the way to the present day argument of Merry Christmas versus Happy Holidays.

IS there a war on Christmas? Of course. But that’s nothing new. It’s been raging since Messiah’s birth. So why do we Christians act so surprised when those who do not believe in the gift of salvation respond to us in ways that line up with their disbelief?

Instead of pressing our rights to hear “Merry Christmas” returned to us in greeting, can we instead smile in response to a “Happy Holidays!” and treat each other with at least a little of the love Jesus extends to us?

Seems we still have much to learn from our Savior.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to cling to, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross. — Philippians 2:5-8

Yes, indeed. We still have much to learn from our Savior.

FOR REFLECTION
Where is your own heart in this war against Christmas? Are you tempted to take up an offense and respond in kind, or are you able to take a deep breath and to exhale love in place of animosity? How is God calling you to respond when you feel anything but loving? What are some specific things you can adjust in your life to help you bring peace to the people around you?

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