“Your a mean one, Mr. Grinch.” Can you hear the tune in your head? One of my favorite holiday films is the Dr. Seuss classic The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. It is the hilarious tale of a green, hairy, bitter outcast determined to rob Whoville of Christmas joy. Reminds me of another story all too familiar.
Christmas has become controversial in our country to say the least. Just yesterday I read an e-mail from our local school district reminding me that my kids were allowed to say Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah or Happy Eid, depending on their religious persuasion. Why would they need to send an e-mail giving my kids permission to say Merry Christmas? Only because in the past few years there has been much controversy over the issue in government run institutions. But the issue is much deeper than my local school district.
Even now I am wondering how my Jewish friends who read this blog or my muslim neighbors who google my name will take what I am getting ready to write in love. Enter the Grinch who stole Christmas.
The Grinch is an outcast, not despised by Whoville, but thrown out of Heaven. He is “a mean one” but we don’t call him the Grinch. Instead we use names like Satan, Lucifer, or the Devil. He hates Christmas because he hates Jesus. The crafty snake has entered American culture and waged war on Christmas. Using strategies like humanism, pluralism, and political correctness, he has caused even Christians to question whether or not it is OK to offer a simple “Merry Christmas.” Drive around. Where have all the nativity scenes gone that once were seen at least in one yard on every street in the neighborhood?
Weapons like Capitalism, Materialism, and Pluralistic (All religions equally true) Christmas parties have been effective tools against a culture once embracing Christmas as the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Do I sound intolerant? I am even questioning myself as I write. Christmas at some level causes controversy in my own heart. It would however be unloving both to God and to people if I let my love of my Jewish or Islamic friends quiet my understanding and celebration of Christmas. I am not talking about the lights and the tree and jolly old Saint Nick. Those things don’t really cause controversy. But this does.
The Jewish Prophet Isaiah prophesied the coming of a Child who would be the Messiah everyone was waiting for.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulders and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. -Isaiah 9:6
700+ years later Jesus is born in Bethlehem to a virgin Mother fulfilling all of the Hebraic prophetic writings concerning the Messiah. 33 years later Jesus was crucified, and 3 days after that he rose from the dead, defeating sin and death and crushing the plans of Satan and paying the price for my sin and anyone else who would confess Jesus Christ is Lord.
Today, Satan still hates that truth. He does whatever he can to hide, convolute, change or deconstruct the story. He is the Grinch who stole Christmas…or at least is trying. He will not succeed.
The battle is over, Jesus is Messiah, and in the end every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. God sent His son Jesus, a part of Himself, in a way that we could understand so that we might leave our sin and return to the Father God who adores us. Every year at Christmas we are reminded of this, the only way to God according to the Jewish author and apostle, John. So this year Celebrate the incarnation. Jesus is Immanuel, “God With Us.” What a gift! Merry Christmas. I love you no matter who you are.