“Happy birthday” are words virtually all of us enjoy hearing. Some appreciate them less as they age while others accept the accolade as a badge of honor for making it another year. Regardless of your sentiment, it is one of the most familiar phrases we know.
Now imagine it’s your birthday but no one calls you by name or worse, your family gathers to exchange gifts and leaves you out of the party. The Christmas season is in full swing. Yet, the name of the One whose birth we celebrate is being increasingly replaced with culturally sensitive seasonal expressions including the ultimate in acceptability, “Happy Holidays.” “Happy Holidays” is the go-to idiom for most merchants, municipalities and schools. Nativity scenes are considered more offensive than porn shops in many communities and the weeks leading up to December 25th are primetime for lotto sales with Pennsylvania’s second-most famous groundhog singing the praises of exchanging lottery tickets in honor of our Savior’s birth. Make no mistake, marginalizing the name and person of Jesus in the public square is a priority for some in positions of power and influence. “Merry Christmas” is verboten throughout the land.
The erosion of our identity as a Christian nation, though new to us, is just the redeployment of an ancient tactic. The Evil one used it to great success on Israel. Second Chronicles 34, records King Josiah leading a country that lost its distinct commitment to the Lord. The people had become so distracted with the stuff of life that a hundred years passed before anyone, including the priests, noticed the only copy of God’s Word was missing. When they brought out the money that had been deposited in the Lord’s temple, Hilkiah the priest found the book of the law of the Lord [written] by the hand of Moses. (2 Chronicles 34:14 HCSB) Had the young Sovereign not ordered the Temple restored, the Law may never have been recovered.
It may seem quite a leap from the diminishing presence of “merry Christmas” to a singular copy of the Word buried under piles of money in the Temple, but consider this; is Jesus Christ getting covered so deep in commercialism, materialism and political correctness that the mention of His name is becoming the exception during the time of year traditionally set aside to celebrate His incarnation? Are we just a few generations away from no one missing Christ during the “holidays”? “It could never happen,” you think. Yet, it did. God’s people became so biblically ignorant (though very spiritual) that they no longer knew how to follow Him. ” . . . For great is the Lord’s wrath that is poured out on us because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord in order to do everything written in this book.” (2 Chronicles 34:21 HCSB)
There has always been tension between Jesus and the marketing that inevitably invades authentic faith (John 2:13-15). I pray that during Christmas 2011, the church will prize the name of Jesus above all else.