So, it’s Christmas time once again, and I am faced with a conundrum… Should Christians “boycott” retailers that don’t use the term “Merry Christmas” but instead “Happy Holidays” or some other neutral phrase? Check the link here for an article related to the most recent movement in that direction. “Christians Urged to Boycott Retailers…”
On the one hand, I see the point of many Christian leaders that I respect immensely… the elimination of the word “Christ” in any public arena represents a decline in the acceptability of our faith at all. Now, not to seem alarmist, but it’s a short step from that little verbal removal to outright persecution, segregation and worse. That is and should be huge concern to all Christians.
On the other hand, is boycotting a company really the Christian thing to do? Are we allowing these stores to not only take the “Christmas” out of Christmas, but also the Christians out of Christmas? Jesus calls us, in the gospel of Matthew, to be the light in the world… but how can we do that if we refuse to go into the entire marketplace?
My dad had a saying that always stuck with me. He would say, “You don’t shine the light by cursing the darkness, but by being the light…” It seems pretty obvious. I mean, when you go into a room you don’t yell at the lamp to come on (unless you have a fancy noise-activated lamp) and then get rid of it when it doesn’t turn on. You have to go over to the lamp and put some of your own power into it.
As Christians, we can’t expect the dark world to act like the light, unless we infuse it with our witness of Jesus first. If we are rejected, than that is a different story. But we have to be the light in the world and not keep our lights separate, segregating ourselves and further pushing our faith to the fringes. We must be so attractive that the world will “see our good works and praise our Father in heaven.”
What does that mean for us? It means that when we go into the marketplace, we clothe ourselves with Jesus Christ. We say, “Merry Christmas” not in a way that is militant or rude, but in a way that points toward the grace and love of Jesus Himself. We must be the “Merry Christmas” before we become overly concerned about saying the words.
Now, you may disagree. You might think that I am spiritualizing an excuse for consumerism. That’s okay, feel free to tell me so. What’s your take on this?