The holidays are one of my favorite times of the year.
Not just for the typical festivities like family gatherings, gift exchanges, the colorful lights, good food, the beauty surrounding the celebration of the birth of Christ, and eggnog – yes, I am a believer in the delicious, sugary, fatty delight that is holiday nog; don’t tweet at me.
But I also just love the spirit of the season. It’s a time when good cheer is aplenty, and folks seem to realize they can take things a little slower and learn to relax – if only for a few days.
Unfortunately, it also happens to be the season for holiday outrage!
If you’re one of those people that love to get outraged around the holidays, the mere fact that I’ve yet to mention the word “Christmas” in this article has probably already gotten your blood boiling.
Why is that?
It never fails; every year Christians seem to have some new inconvenience that sparks the flame of outrage deep within their souls. And they just have to post about it on Facebook.
Red cups! People saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas!” Too many secular Christmas songs! Millennial nativity scenes, complete with selfies and soy lattes!
Each one of these outrages is perceived by Christians as an attack on not only the meaning of Christmas but also their deeply held beliefs in their faith. However, if you just take a few moments to examine each individual outrage, you begin to realize there’s a good explanation for all of them.
- The holiday cups from your favorite coffee shop were never intended to represent Christianity in the first place; they’re meant to represent a general celebration of Christmas, and red just so happens to be a very Christmas-y color.
- People also say “Happy Holidays” around this time because Christmas isn’t the only holiday celebrated in December (Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, Omisoka).
- A lot of secular Christmas songs can be just as beautiful as those traditional religious Christmas songs – have you ever heard Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”? I rest my case.
- And that millennial nativity scene? Don’t you think that Mary and Joseph would have been snapping selfies with the newborn Savior of the world had he been born in 2018 instead of thousands of years ago?
Ed Stetzer, author of the book “Christians in the Age of Outrage,” says the problem with outrage starts with the willingness of Christians to create, what he calls, “echo chambers of ideology.”
“The echo chamber first affirms your ideas, then it amplifies them, and you can start to believe the worst things about people you don’t agree with,” Stetzer said, in a recent CNN interview about his book.
As Christians, we need to understand that – while there are plenty of reasons to be righteously indignant these days – losing your temper at people who celebrate the holidays differently than you do is not a productive way to win people over to Christ.
In fact, there’s a strong chance that this holiday outrage from Christians is the very reason that many people choose to steer clear from the faith.
And I don’t blame them! How bad does it make Christians seem when all people see from you are the things you’re angry about rather than the things that bring you joy?
How are we reflecting the love of Christ when we point our fingers at the “other side” and accuse them of “taking Christ out of Christmas,” when they might not know the birth of Christ is the reason we celebrate this holiday?
Wasting time on the cups we drink our coffee from, the songs we sing, and the greetings we say to each other isn’t worth the energy; but taking care of your friends, neighbors, and community is always worth it.
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and do your best this season to “do no harm.”