December 20, 2016

The Blessings of Christmas Include Freedom

by Donald G. Mashburn

After tripping on their own political correctness in recent years, some of the biggest retailers seemed to have seen the light on what Christmas means to some of their customers. But only after they were smartly “bah-ed and humbugged” by customers who didn’t like the retailers’ avoidance of “Christmas” in their ads and store displays.

Nativity scenes in public places still bring knee-jerk reactions from the intolerant. And in some schools, signs depicting or naming Christ in Christmas plays, students’ drawings, and banners are enough to bring on a case of the vapors for the Christ-intolerant and their supporters. They and their, often unwitting, allies are still trying to hijack the traditional Christmas season.

The hijacking effort continues, and has been facilitated by the commercial orgy that has distorted what Christmas used to mean to most of us. It’s no wonder that in the minds of many students – and, sadly, many adults – the real meaning and substance of Christmas have become blurred.

The more prominent hijackers include atheists and anti-religion groups, supported by the likes of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and their ilk in their efforts to ban any sign of Christ in schools and public places.

But the real substance of Christmas – the Christ of Christmas – is not a banner, a tree, or a manmade display. The real meaning of Christmas is what it means to those who believe that Jesus came from God to die on the cross to atone for our sins and the sins of the world. And one of the many blessings of Christmas is the freedom to believe and worship God as a free people.

They also believe in a Constitutional right to the free exercise of their religion, and they oppose efforts to discriminate against them for doing so. They objected openly to the discriminatory actions of school administrators banning or prohibiting anything with Christian significance, while approving decisions to permit Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Islamic displays.

Christians still feel discriminated against when anti-Christian activists protest hearing or seeing any public display or mention of the name of Jesus. Schools that banned “Merry Christmas” claimed its “religious significance” somehow violated the separation of church and state. A few years back, one school reportedly removed “Christmas” from its calendar so students would not be exposed to the “Christ” part of “Christmas.”

Christian hymns, such as “Silent Night,” can put some school administrators, and a few anti-Christian parents, into a tizzy.

In the liberal world of political-correctness-gone-goofy, “Happy Holidays” fits the season of commercialism better than “Merry Christmas.” But only short years ago, Christmas had special meaning: It was the day we celebrated the coming of the Savior of the world, the Prince of Peace, “Immanuel ... God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)

Those who are cynical and intolerant of the Christ of Christmas should take a close look at this Jesus, who although He Himself was sinless, willingly suffered the agony and shame of the cross for our sins.

And the empty tomb gave irrefutable and timeless testimony that He was who He said He was, the Son of God. And the empty tomb was evidence that God accepted His perfect sacrifice, and that He was worthy in God’s sight to be the Redeemer of imperfect mankind.

This historical, resurrected Christ does not live in the commercial tinsel and glitter of the secularized “Christmas Season.” He lives in the hearts of changed men, women and children whose lives have been transformed by the teachings, life, death and resurrection of the babe born in a manger on that first Christmas night.

His miracles have continued in divinely transformed lives, from the first martyr, Stephen, and the martyred apostles, to those who witness and stand for what’s right today. These changed lives attest to the divinity, power and real meaning of the Christ whose coming we celebrate on Christmas.

Christmas without Christ is empty. Against His life, death and resurrection, the worldly trappings of Christmas fade to nothing. If we see Christmas only as a time to acquire “stuff,” we rob ourselves of the real meaning of Christmas. The stuff acquired at Christmas, and in life, is of no lasting significance – a one-day garage sale will take care of most of it after we’re gone.

The meaning of Christmas is too important to miss: Christ came; He loved us enough to suffer and die for us; and He’s coming again!

In a still free America, Christians are free to believe that, and the anti-Christmas, anti-God types that intimidate can’t change that.

Truth is defined by facts and reality, not by emotions.

Forgiveness of a wrongful act does not mean denying the TRUTH, but loving in spite of it.

He who cannot keep a cool head should not enter the heat of debate.

Keep from your yesterdays what will help you through your tomorrows.

The ability to persuade is proportional to the character of the persuader.

Fretting never solved a problem; praying has led to victory in great battles.

Accuracy has limitations; honesty has none.

Learning and the will to do are voluntary, but character and goodness determine if it’s worthwhile.

Success depends on ability and motivation, worthwhileness on character and attitude.

Where you finish in a race is not as important as whether you ran.

Genius isn’t a friend to all, but Stupidity will buddy-up to anyone who welcomes it.

Things don’t always happen for the best, but make the best of things that happen.

Everything’s relative: A snail thinks zipping along on the back of a turtle is a wild ride.

In case you have to eat your words, make them as sweet as possible.

Prosperity brings many friends, adversity not so many.

How can you believe a politician who promises you everything free with lower taxes?

Most folks can talk nonsense at times, but few can do it with a straight face like a politician.

You can’t help but notice that most good talkers are good listeners.

Have you ever wondered if the inventor of high heels was once kissed on the forehead?

Secrets of a good speech: Know what you’re going to say; say it, shut up, and sit down.

May God bless America according to His love and mercy, not according to our actions.

We are commanded to “Love others,” but some “others” take more prayer.