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FIRST-PERSON: Take a stand for Christmas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Are we losing Christmas?

No one wanted Jesus, it seemed. Arrogant kings and conniving thugs throughout the Old Testament sought to exterminate the Jews and sever the bloodline God established for the coming prince of peace. Before the angel appeared to him, Joseph determined he would privately divorce his pregnant fiancée Mary. Later, the innkeeper in Bethlehem didn’t seem to care that Mary was on the verge of childbirth. The best he would offer was a stable that no doubt smelled of animal manure. Herod certainly didn’t want Jesus. He murdered every boy two years of age or younger in and around Bethlehem in a bloody dragnet hoping to eliminate Him. The Jewish leadership of the day finally did what Herod couldn’t do when they succeeded in having Him nailed to the cross.

Jesus was God’s gift to mankind. Never has so great a gift been so poorly received. Never, that is, until now.

The attack on Christmas rages across our country with Herodian intensity. Instead of Herod’s hit squads, constitutional revisionists use our legal system to wage their war. They stand on a faulty interpretation of the First Amendment and rigorously apply the idea of “separation between church and state,” a declaration never made in the Constitution and one never intended by the founding founders.

However, their double standard belies their logic and reveals that their true goal is not to prevent government from establishing a state religion but to expunge all things Christian from the marketplace.

The proof is in their actions. Within the past few weeks the New York City school system continued its ban on Christmas along with nativity scenes while simultaneously authorizing expressions of the Jewish Hanukkah and the Islamic Ramadan in hallways and classrooms. Hundreds of similar instances across our country verify the frequency of such attacks on Christmas.

Revisionists know that if they can kill Christmas they’ve greatly pushed Christianity from the center of our culture. They are willing to overlook the use of public funds that “endorse” other religions if they can exclude Christianity.

Christians can’t let that happen. Christmas represents the focal point of divine incarnation. To ignore Christ’s coming to earth through the virgin birth is to forfeit any opportunity mankind has for salvation. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). It is that exclusivity that our culture finds offensive.

It is our duty — it should be our passion — to vigorously defend Christmas even in the face of such animosity. We must fight for Christmas on behalf of the very people who would like to silence it. We carry within us the message that He came in order to reconcile man to God. If Christians don’t share that message, then “how can they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe without hearing about Him” (Romans 10:14)?

Christmas represents the beginning of God’s physical presence with us. It is easy to get lost in the story of a baby and the tranquility of the nativity scenes we display. Jesus in a manger could not save us, but the Man on the cross could — and did. My father used to say that Christmas is not a time for remembering a small child but for following a magnificent Man.

The baby Jesus does not threaten secular culture; it’s the Man the baby grew to be. Christian, don’t leave Jesus in the manger this Christmas or cower to the brashness of secularists. Imitate the angel of Luke 2:10 and boldly announce “the good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”
James T. Draper Jr. is president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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  • James T. Draper Jr.