Friday, December 20, 2013

Cultural Chaos and Crises @ Christmas

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At a time of year when we could be reflecting the goodness of God our Creator and the birth of His Son Jesus Christ, many are not.

Instead, Christmas creates conflict for many and cultural chaos that impacts every family that has children in public school, nearly every courthouse, statehouse and even the White House with a heightened sensitivity to political correctness.

We try oh-so-hard to celebrate Christmas by calling it by any other name and describing it as anything but the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ--God who became flesh and lived among us.

And this notion of celebrating a non-Christmas holiday at Christmas time creates chaos, confusion and crises for many.

A Pew Research Poll taken last week reveals that only about half of Americans consider Christmas a "religious" holiday anymore.

A part of the half who "do" believe Christmas is religious, must be the atheists. They believe fir trees, mittens and snowflakes are Christian symbols during the month of December. They even believe the colors "red" and "green" are religious this month.

Many who consider themselves Christian have less faith than the atheists.

Ironically, while only about half of us believe Christmas is religious, 75% of us believe that Jesus was born of a virgin.

Cultural chaos, crises and confusion @ Christmas.

But why?

KOMO News in Seattle carried an Associated Press story.

AP says, "For a significant number of Americans, Christmas has largely lost its religious meaning," rather, they say, it is "becoming an occasion focused instead on visiting family and friends and exchanging gifts."

Christmas is certainly a time for Christians to do all of the above, but it can be done in the context of focusing on the biblical meaning of Christmas.

The Pew Poll reflects a number of statistics. You may want to look at it more closely.

Here's what I took from it:

  • 69% say they went to church services on Christmas when they were a child. 54% say they now go.
  • 66% of people over 65 years old consider Christmas religious---40% of adults under the age of 30 agree.
  • 80% of white evangelicals consider Christmas to be a religious holiday.
  • 66% of white Catholics consider it religious.
  • 60% of black Protestants consider Christmas religious.
  • As mentioned above, 75% of us believe Jesus was born of a virgin.

The line in the AP story that struck me was this: "Not surprisingly, Christians who are more closely identified with a faith are more likely to view Christmas as religious."

On the surface, that makes sense, but a closer look reveals the impact relativism is actually having on our culture. And each successive generation.

What the poll does not define or capture is the distinction between what we will call a "cultural Christian" and a biblical Christian.

A cultural Christian would be someone who sees themselves as "Christian" by default---I am not Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, etc., therefore I am Christian.

A biblical Christian is someone who adheres to biblical teaching and has a personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ.

St. Paul explains this in a number of places in Scripture, none more plainly than in Romans 10:9-13.

A "biblical Christian" is someone who has "accepted" or "confessed with his mouth and believed in his heart" that Jesus Christ is who He said He is. The Son of God. And that He was raised from the dead.

Scripture says that regardless of who "confesses and believes" they will be saved, or in a relationship with God through Christ. It says it doesn't matter who they are--"Jew or Gentile"---"everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."

That's the miracle of God's grace.

Polls generally perform around denominations and demographics in regard to religious issues.

Both can be misleading in polls. And miss the truth of the matter.

The war on Christianity in America is causing our nation to become a divided nation. The war on Christianity in some way touches every part of our culture---our institutions, our legal system, even our philosophy of government.

The divide is not measured by the normally accepted parameters used in polling.

For a moment, forget the labels of "religion," specifically Christianity, in our country, such as Protestant, Catholic, evangelical, left wing, right wing, conservative-progressive, whatever.

The divide between "cultural Christians" plus the 20% who say they have no faith and those who confess a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is growing. While the "no faith people" and the Christians whom Pew says are not "identified" with a faith are coming from different points of view, they end up in about the same place.

The result is a culture in chaos and confusion. Never is it more evident than at Christmas time.

Secular progressives, a minority in our culture, are dominating public education, the entertainment industry, news media, the judicial system and our legal system. And at this present time, our political system.

Their gospel advocates no enduring principles, no absolutes, no exceptionalism, no higher power, no creator, therefore no after life, no consequences for the way we live and no fixed Truth,only many relative, evolving truths.

As relativism and its many truths seep into the culture, the effect is both seen and felt.

The effect is chaos and confusion.

The activists continue to push, creating laws that enable them to advance a secular, relativistic philosophy.

Some biblical Christians resist. Some biblical Christians become silent. Cultural Christians are often ambivalent.

Tolerance, inclusiveness, fairness, equality, all carry a pleasant tone and seem to be right.

Cultural Christians, absent a personal relationship with God, accept relative morals and while perhaps uncomfortable, do not resist the redefining of marriage, revision of biblical Truth, abortion on demand, etc.

As the culture becomes more chaotic as a result of the secular progressive madness, its acceptable to designate fir trees, mittens and snowflakes as religious, while accepting that Christmas is really not a religious holiday.

Biblical Truth is marginalized, while evolving "truths" begin to dominate.

The results include a mental affirmation of the Virgin Birth, but a disconnect with its spiritual reality.

Here's the Truth. Christmas is the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, He was born of a virgin. He is God. He did die for our sins. He was resurrected from the dead. You can know Him personally.

Isaiah predicted His birth:

"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." 9:6

The Shepherds experienced it:

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about" (Luke 2:15).

(17) And when they had seen Him they spread the word...

(18) And all who heard were amazed...

Christmas is certainly about family and friends, but its much more about the story of the gospel.

It has been said, "Go tell it on the mountain...that Jesus Christ is born."

Be Blessed.