Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Merry Christmas! Or is that Happy Holidays?
A number of years ago, an "evil" establishment popped up in the town where I lived. Evil in that it sold BOTH hard liquor and pornography. A little known fact is that on several occasions, after dark, a petite spit-fire of a woman named Mrs. Mary would take a bottle of wine and walk around the building anointing it while praying -- cursing the evil therein. Is it any surprise that before too long, the place burned down and was never rebuilt? I have to admit, I applauded Mrs. Mary for her efforts and her boldness. Oh, to have such conviction ... and FAITH! But over the years, my thinking has developed a little bit as I have thought about this story. (And it's indeed a true one.)
Could it be as Dr. Leonard Sweet shares that too many Christians want to change the world, not because they love the world but because they hate it? That was a life-shaping thought for me. How many times had I ridden by establishments, palm readers, night clubs, stripped joints, etc, and "cursed" the place. Maybe I hadn't asked God to burn it down, but I had requested it be no more.
More recently I was touched by something Nancy Heche shared in her book, The Truth Comes Out. (You might recall that Nancy's daughter Ann had a highly publicized lesbian affair with actress Ellen DeGeneres.) Nancy related her hard and stubborn heart toward her daughter ... until the last verse of Acts 3 jumped out at her. When God raised up his servant [Jesus], he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways. Did you hear that? God's blessing is what turns us from our ways to His ways.
The Greek lexicon says this about the word "blessing." "To bless is to ask God to interfere, to take action in one's life, to bring them to the desired relationship with Himself so that they are truly blessed and fully satisfied."
Instead of offering blessings, I'm afraid we get caught up in the lover's quarrel of which Dr. Sweet spoke. And it becomes more and more evident every year. If a particular store won't recognize Christmas, well, then we'll just take our business elsewhere. If they call their pines "holiday trees," then we get back in our cars and go to the next place that actually sells Christmas trees. Or worse yet, if an employee wishes us a happy holidays, we respond with a haughty, "Merry Christmas." At least I know I have.
Listen, I wish everyone understood and appreciated the meaning of Christmas, but the truth is we live in a society where that's no longer the case. And, yes, I'm aware that these same people are more than willing to receive our monies. But what would happen if we began blessing instead of cursing? If we began offering Christ in the person of our presence rather than avoiding altogether? What if we extended grace? What if we really loved the world instead of hated it ... and asked God to bring the heads of companies as well as their employees to a desired relationship with Him? What if?
Frank Laubach, a missionary to Muslims in the Philippines back in the 1930's, wrote in his book, Letters by a Modern Mystic, these words. "Clearly, clearly, my job here is not to go to the town plaza and make proselytes, it is to live wrapped in God, trembling to His thoughts, burning with His passion. And, my loved one, that is the best gift you can give to your own town."
Sounds like a wonderful Christmas gift to offer all those with whom we come in contact during this special holy-day season.
Just an ordinary moment...