I love the Christmas season, I love warm cookies, warm feelings, and our little fake tree decorated with too many ornaments and lights. I enjoy picking out and making presents for Gabe and those we love. I relish in the songs that celebrate the birth of Christ and family Christmas cards that are sent to us. But lately, it seems like this season has been covered by a fog of hateful words and actions.
The media has been perpetuating that a "war on Christmas" is occurring across the nation. Signs in Time Square, a rude letter from a neighbor about a lit nativity scene, and interviews with atheists who claim that "religion kills people" are a few of the articles and videos I have seen floating around the internet.
And there are two things that have baffled me throughout all of this:
1. This is being claimed as persecution. While I may not have Mormon Pioneer ancestors who were run out of their homes and/or killed, I have grown up in and feel very much a part of the heritage of pioneers who were. I am grateful for those who lived their religion despite persecution so I could experience the joy and peace that I feel on a daily basis through the gospel of Christ.
But, signs? Rude notes from anonymous neighbors? A man expressing his opinion on the news? That is not persecution, and to say that it is denotes those who are, to this day, persecuted and martyred for practicing Christianity.
2. While these things are not persecution they can hurt feelings, and that has been very obvious from many of the comments I have seen and heard posted throughout the internet (I seriously need to stop reading the comment sections of anything).
To be Christian is to follow Christ, a being who atoned for each of our sins but who was also persecuted and crucified for His beliefs. Christ was/is loving and kind. He said "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34 KJV)
When Christ was on this earth, one of his most renowned sermons is the Sermon on the Mount, and in it we learn
"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God...." and later on "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:9,16 KJV)
To me, being unapologetically Christian is less about saying things and more about living a Christlike life despite what anyone else is saying or doing. It is about random acts of kindness and making an effort to reach out to others, not because we want them to believe what we believe, but because we know who they are, a child of God.
May we all remember that this Christmas season as we sing the mantra
Peace on Earth... Good will towards men....