Happy Holidays?

"Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves."
(Philippians 2:3, ESV)

Humility is a wonderful thing — so long as it's not during the Christmas season. Then, it seems, all bets are off for most Christians.

Hey, I've been guilty. A few years back, there was this uproar that employees of the mega-retailer Target were told they weren't to say "Merry Christmas," instead using the more politically palatable "Happy Holidays."

I, being a good American Christian, joined in that heavenly chorus, shaking my head at this godless nation that so casually casts aside those traditions we hold most dear. Sigh ... it was another example of how we are the only socio-cultural group against whom it is acceptable to discriminate.

And every year hence it's the same ol' story ... Christians complain about how no one says "Merry Christmas" anymore.

As much as I hate to put posts like this one up — and I've done it a lot, I'm afraid, no doubt giving more credence to the thought among some who assume I'm a wolf in sheep's clothing — I'm no longer in agreement with the "Happy Holidays" uproar.

Why? Because of scripture, naturally. I can't find in the Bible anywhere that says we should rail against anyone who dares recognize this time of year as anything other than a celebration of the birth of Christ. What I do find, repeatedly, is the importance of humility.

It's one of the most biblical of virtues — in my English Standard Version, there are 10 mentions of humility; choose the word "humble" and that number grows to a whopping 73 mentions — yet one of the least important character traits in modern culture.

And, sadly, Christians are among the worst at exhibiting a lack of humility. Indeed, these days it seems believing in Jesus is less about loving, serving and worshiping Him and more about telling people they are wrong and being on the winning team.

Ask yourself this question: why does it bother you so much that others insist on saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas?" Is it because you insist on being "right," or is it because you truly feel compassion for those who don't know Jesus? If your true motivation is anything less than bringing nonBelievers into a relationship with Him, then it stands on sandy soil.

Might I submit to you that telling your barista at Starbucks to put the Christ back in Christmas is not only something he or she can't do — what, you want them to lose their job or, at the very least, get in trouble for defying corporate policy? That'll endear them to the Christian message — but it's not the best way to introduce them to who Jesus is and why we believe in Him.

Again, I see this as an issue in humility. Scripture teaches us to consider others as better than ourselves – unless, of course, we're defending our notions of Jesus' birth. Then, we're free to be obnoxious in our steadfast denial that this time of year has anything to do with anything else. And that begs the question: how come you never hear Jews complaining about "Happy Holidays?"

(Oh, and as an aside ... do you really think Jesus wants — or needs — humans to defend the celebration of His birth?)

Look, I'm not saying to jump on the PC bandwagon and pass around "Season's Greetings" platitudes at the mall. Say Merry Christmas until your little heart's content and your face is blue. It's what I do. For me — and for the rest of the world, too — Jesus IS the reason for the season.

But do we have to be so bull-headed about it? Can't we embrace humility and extend a hand of peace to our friends who just don't know who Jesus is? Can't we find some common ground upon which to stand before we start telling them the Truth?

Truth is not relative, nor is spirituality a pluralistic enterprise no matter what post-modern philosophy or the PC police say. I believe in Jesus because I've found in Him the end of my search for Truth. The last thing I want to do is beat others over the head with my Nativity Scene just because they haven't gotten there yet.

(Agree? Disagree? Let me know, please.)

(copyright andrew j. beckner, 2007. all rights under copyright reserved worldwide. for reprinting information, e-mail to Ephesians514@gmail.com.)