“You know me, I am no fan of the term X-mas or X anything.
I make my kids play Christ-box 360.
And if they break a bone they get Christ-rays.”
One of the most interesting things I find about evangelicalism is how often it is its own worst enemy. Take for example two of the pillars of American Evangelicalism: Evangelism & Culture Wars.
On the one hand, evangelicals often believe that one of the (if not the) most important part of the Christian faith is to win people to the Christian faith.
On the other hand, evangelicals also emphasize trying to keep (or make it one in the first place, depending on your interpretation of American history) America a Christian nation.
One of the things that makes accomplishing both these things almost impossible is simple psychology: when you make an enemy of someone, they are not easily won over to your position.
If my goal is to make my country a place where everyone says “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays” I, either on purpose or by metaphorical implication, make everyone who says “Happy Holidays” an enemy.
Think about it. People say that “THEY” are taking Christ out of Christmas? Who is this “THEY” anyway? Isn’t it just other people? People who say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”? They are the enemy. They are “in the way” of accomplishing my mission, especially (or primarily) if I do not have an already-established relationship with the person.
But once someone perceives they are your enemy, the defenses go up. It becomes extremely hard for them to hear anything you have to say as a positive step in the relationship, no matter how well-intentioned it is.
But the more damaging implications of the “Christmas culture war” is that it rests on three basic assumptions:
1. That people who say “Merry Christmas” are any closer to Christ than those who say “Happy Holidays.”
2. That we can coerce a culture into a relationship with Christ.
3. That winning this “battle” actually helps us win the “war.”
Here I want to take on assumption number three. My argument here, as I said in a previous controversial post, is that we have to be willing to concede some “battles” to win the “war.”
This is part of my life mission to “concede” people into the Kingdom of God. This seems to be how Jesus reacted much of the time. It was his unwillingness to fight that was often the most powerful weapon in his arsenal (except for the religious leaders of course. He had no problem standing up to them). When Peter declared that it was finally time to “stand up for what we believe,” Jesus rebuked him and healed the person Peter lashed out against.
The point of Jesus’ mission in the world was to lose, not to win. It was in losing arguments that he won people. But that is often difficult for us to swallow. It seems so backward. But thus is the Kingdom of God. We want to do both. But in the process we never get to the point: Jesus. We stop people before they ever get to Jesus. We stop them at whether or not they say “Christmas,” we stop them at whether they celebrate Halloween. We stop them at whether or not evolution is true. We stop them at whether or not the government should let homosexual couples marry. There are so many check-points, no wonder so many people give up before they ever get to Jesus.
In a world where Christians are labeled as being against everything in our culture, what a powerful argument for God when we confound their expectations, when we come to battle with a towel and basin full of water instead of a sword.
Why not sacrifice the less important (people saying Xmas) for the more important (people seeing X in me).