Christmas: A Time for Peace (And a Time for War)
- Thursday, December 06, 2012
A cold chill has entered the air, decorations have started turning red, green and silver, bell-ringers are appearing in front of stores, a common music theme is being heard throughout and seasonal “fashion wear” (a.k.a. Christmas sweaters) are starting to reappear for the annual migration out of moth balls.
This near-worldwide transformation signals one thing - the start of one of the toughest “seasons” of a single person’s year, that being the Christmas holidays (another seems to be “wedding season”).
When I look back over the decades of Christmases and years as a single, there have been many memorable and meaningful times, more blessings than I could ever expect or imagine. Yet, as the years pass, the frequency of periods of solitude and loneliness seem to increase.
With another Christmas approaching, I have to be careful not to allow myself to slip into a “Woe is me, look at what everyone else is doing” mentality and give into the temptation of believing the lies of the enemy.
Aside from the glitter, pleasantries among strangers, gift exchanges and true meaning of the season, this time of year is not just a battle for us to live as singles, but I am reminded by events surrounding us there is a larger, more intense war going on which started thousands of years ago concerning this same event we celebrate today.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).
That first Christmas marked the beginning of two distinct factions battling for the life and soul of each person that followed.
Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him" (Matthew 2:1-2).
Depending upon the cultural background a person originates, there seems to be some disagreement over the exact names and origin of the “Magi.” Nevertheless, what is commonly accepted is the Magi were kings, or at least royalty, who came to worship and present symbolic gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense to the newborn King.
At the same time, the enemy had plans to circumvent the situation by eliminating the baby Jesus.
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born…. “For Herod is going to search for the child to kill him” (Matthew 2:3-13).
Having been warned in a dream of King Herod’s intent, the Magi returned to their countries by a different route. Since they did not disclose Jesus’ exact location, Herod had all of the boys less than two years of age in Bethlehem and its vicinity to be killed (Matthew 2).
Although this familiar event occurred thousands of years ago, hostility towards Jesus, His birth and all He represents can still be felt across our nation in real and tangible ways, especially during this time we celebrate.
I have wanted to believe in a Christmas where the world, or at least the country, would come together in a universal and unified manner to not only rejoice over the birth of Jesus, but also spread a compassionate, generous and positive message of the Good News. However as much as I’d like to have faith in “Peace on Earth,” I don’t have to look very far to see we are reaching a point which is anything but that.
The Middle East conflict continues to rage on, the contemptuous political stage has split the country, and religious freedoms have been in jeopardy.
Last year, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based group started a campaign to encourage its 17,000 members to erect “anti-religious” displays adjacent to nativity scenes on public property. One sign proclaimed “There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven and no hell” and was placed on the Athens, Texas courthouse lawn.
This year, the protests have continued in an even bigger and more contemptuous ways.
“When United States District Court Judge Audrey B Collins delivered a 28-page ruling denying my client (a group of churches) the right to continue a 59-year-old tradition of exhibiting Nativity scenes along Ocean Boulevard in the City of Santa Monica this Christmas season, another dagger plunged into the heart of America's twilight customs and traditions. The sneered-at 'war on Christmas' was effectively lost for good," wrote William J. Becker, Jr., of The Becker Law Firm, in an article. Time.com
With all of this angst going on around us this year I am especially reminded to not lose focus of Him by worrying too much about myself. The small battles I face each day do not compare to the war we are faced with in the spiritual realm. By Jesus’ words himself, He proclaims what His purpose was.
Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division (Luke 12:51).
Although as believers, we can continue to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, reach out to others in various ways and share the reason why God came into this world and the peace and salvation one can receive by accepting Jesus as their Lord, we must remember Christianity divides.
For I have come to turn 'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—‘ (Matthew 10:35).
With this in mind, time is short.
I personally can’t spend another Christmas worrying about “little” things in my life when there are more serious events going on in the world.
This season, when I come across a public Nativity scene, I will be thankful Jesus came into this world to save me of my sins, reminded of the real-world battle we are in, encouraged the municipality has not given in to the ridiculous demands of the jaded few, reminded there is a larger war going on besides my personal feelings, “status,” or possession, and to pray for “Peace on Earth.”
This season is much bigger than me, it’s all about Him.
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Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the monthly column, "He Said-She Said," in Crosswalk.com's Singles Channel. An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback? Send your comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publication date: December 6, 2012
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