I apologize in advance for the tone of this post, but I just got back from Crown Center and I need to vent all the frustrations that have been building up since the first Christmas commercial I saw last October.
I really get sick of hearing people complain about "happy holidays" vs. "Merry Christmas." I see very little connection between our culture's celebration of Christmas and the Kingdom Jesus was born to establish. And yet, we think we need to fight this "Christmas war."
On the news the other night, there was a story about a Christmas tree being taken down from the state capital in Madison, WI. Some groups of Christians will put up a big fight over a department store not saying "Merry Christmas" or a state building not have a Christmas tree, but they could care less that the average American family will spend $800 in gifts or that our government is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. Why does that seem to be a complete reversal of the values of Jesus' kingdom? Nowhere in the gospels does Jesus call us to put up Christmas trees or condemn those who refuse to do so, but he did call us to love our enemies. But it's so much easier to get angry at "liberals" who take down Christmas trees than to ask tough questions about our governments use of military force.
I just read something in Robert Webber's book, Journey to Jesus that summarizes my frustration.
"We live in a time of the breakdown of Christian values. Values of personal morality and Christian virtue have been lost.
We live in a time when secular values of the American dream and of capitalism have been christianized. Ambition, success, thrift, wealth, being nice, dressing right and playing the political game are exonerated as characteristics of 'good' Christians."
There's a serious disconnect in the thinking of a lot of American Christians. We'll fight over things that really don't matter while completely ignoring Jesus' command to pick up our cross and follow him. It's a lot easier to think being a Christian is about saying "Merry Christmas" than to discipline ourselves to give to the poor. One of these doesn't matter at all, one seems to be the very criteria by which Jesus allows admittance into heaven (see Matthew 25).
For about 9 billion dollars, we could bring clean water to every person in this world. Americans spent 9 billion dollars shopping the day after Thanksgiving. And yet we put our energy into worrying about a Christmas tree, which was originally a pagan symbol anyway? This makes me so angry I'm not able to clearly articulate myself.
To follow the teachings of some dude named Jesus, you can support this organization. Instead of buying another piece of junk, how about loving Jesus? Yes, I got some pointless gifts for Christmas, but I was able to get some relatives to donate money to Water Partners rather than buying me gifts I don't need. It's not wrong to buy each other gifts, but there comes a point in which we must realize we're wasting resources on buying each other things we don't need while the majority of the world is struggling to survive each day.
You can blame some of these thoughts on this man. And his book will rock your world.