December 19, 2017

What is the Best Gift This Politically-Correct Christmas Season?

What is the best type of gift I can give? What is the most meaningful type of gift? These are the types of questions we ask around this time of year.

As a Christian, I can honestly say that to me the greatest gift of all is knowing Christ on a personal level. This is the central meaning and source of joy of this holiday season for me and my family. Someone in a business email wrote "Happy Holidays" to me and in reply, I wrote, "Wishing you etherial joy this Christmas!" That was the first thing that came to mind. Anything would be better than the standard generic option. While I respect people's rights to celebrate the winter solstice, pagan sun gods, and Santa Clause, I truly believe that Christ is the basis of deeper peace and joy and at least I can offer a conversation starter if someone wants to take the subject further. Instead of more materialism this Christmas, maybe we as Christians need more reflection time on the giving nature of God and the opportunity that we have this season to share the greatest gift of all that is not material but is spiritual and personal:

Christ is the only one that can offer the greatest gift of all simply with open and outstretched hands.

The gift of eternal life that God offers was made possible by Christ giving himself on the cross. Scripture describes how Jesus still had the scars on his hands after his resurrection and showed these to doubting Thomas as evidence of who he was (John 20:27). Despite this type of incredible self-less love being the very core of God's nature, it's interesting that many people will become triggered and offended when you bring the word "Christ" into Christmas. And it's good to ask why. Jesus defined his main mission as such:

"For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10 NIV)

People don't like to be called "lost" -especially men. And this is just the beginning. The gospel is an inherent aspect of the Christmas message, and maybe that's why it's considered offensive. Some of the misconceptions of the gospel have to do with misconceptions about life itself. For example, people usually don't like exclusivity, unless perhaps you are talking about a private club that they belong to. However, according to the basic rules of logic, truth claims about life are in fact exclusive and two opposing views cannot both be true.

People also can be offended that God would treat a mass-murderer and a nun with equal grace. But that is simply the way that God's grace operates. To be clear, the Bible shows that salvation is a free gift of God through faith:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-0 NKJV)

If we are aiming to be true followers of Christ then we won't shun our identification with who Jesus is and what he stands for and we will try to explain why knowing Christ is all-important. As Christians, we were purchased at a price and not mainly in order to live for our self-interest, but to live with fullness embracing the heart of Christ and with others-centered love:

"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it." (Mark 8:35 NIV)

True identification with Christ is much more than simply calling ourselves Christians and anticipating the joys of heaven, it's taking on the core values of Christ and also a willingness to bear the type of condemnation that his own words had brought upon him for his sake. The reasons that the gospel is a rock of offense to many people are the same types of reasons that the angry crowd called for Christ's crucifixion.

Scripture refers to Christ himself as "the rock of offense" (1 Pet. 2:8, Rom. 9:33), and so if you want to have a politically correct Jesus, then you are going to have to oppose scripture and Christ himself in order to have your way. The most critical aspects of the gospel are, first, we are all sinners that need forgiveness, and the following of religion and "doing good" and "being good" without Christ will not get you into heaven. Second, Christ is exclusively the only way to salvation and true forgiveness of sin, all based on the cross. Third, if we do not accept Christ, then we are already on our way to hell and eternal damnation. The good news is that we can accept Christ as our personal savior and Lord, be saved, and enjoy eternal life.

Many people do not share the gospel using the type of language that Christ did because they fear that people will become put off by hearing the offensive aspects of the true gospel. But if we are ashamed of the true message of Christ and avoid the language that Christ used as he presented it, then Christ said that he will be ashamed of us in the future:

"Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." (Mark 8:38 NIV).

There is increasing animosity against Christian ideas in society and in education. To make a point, a Christian circulated a fake petition to ban Christmas altogether from the University of Virginia. In less than two hours, almost 20 students signed the fake Christmas-banning petition.

Just because society is becoming more 'politically correct' and discriminatory, it does not mean that political correctness is actually correct. On the contrary,  a good article on university 'safe spaces' summarized that universities failed when debate and argument succumbed to the pursuit of 'safe places' based on emotionalism.

People that want to shut down debate usually do so because their ideas are weak and cannot stand up to scrutiny and debate. The University of West Virginia boasts a "Secular Safe Zone program, to "...create safe spaces where secular students can question, criticize and discuss topics and issues that are important to them." In other words, create places where you can criticize other people's beliefs and stir up prejudice when they are not there to explain misrepresentations and falsehoods.

The fact is, secularists are being blown out of the water in terms of international debates with theists. Richard Dawkins made seven awkward excuses for not debating William Lane Craig. There is really nothing to be ashamed of in terms of defending the gospel today.

As Christians, if we're not freely willing to surrender 100% of our ego and self-interest for the sake of Christ and the gospel, then we don't yet fully understand the full weight of the gift of knowing Christ and the gospel. The more 'politically correct' the season becomes, the more I want to be careful not to lose sight of the true meaning of life and to prepare myself to stand for truth without cowering. I personally would rather be more concerned about offending Christ himself than offending some of the people that passionately reject Christ and any mention of Christ. Christ is my central passion. And that defines who I am.

If Christianity is false, then just a shrug of the shoulder by unbelievers would seem to suffice. If the claims of Christ are true, however, then people that reject Christ are ultimately embracing that which is not true, healthy, or right. Because there is often a deep sense of anger and hostility and not mere apathy, this reaction implies that Christianity is in fact true:

"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." John 3:19

If you can get past the issues of Christ that you find offensive, you might just see that God's unconditional and others-centered type of love is truly attractive. This is the core of God's nature:

"That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:45-48 NIV)

To share the gospel and to share God's love is essentially sharing in God's nature. Whether people want to receive it or not, knowing Christ is the greatest gift of all, and I would like to share it with people in a way that is genuine and in keeping with who Christ is. Though the gospel of Christ may not be considered politically correct for now, because Christ is the true King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and every knee will bow before Christ, the gospel is actually politically correct in the highest timeless sense. And it is logically correct when you look into it.

If you are a New Age practitioner, I would ask: Why seek the living among the dead? Why try to build a life upon pagan myths and folklore when there is true life in Christ? Instead of celebrating an inanimate winter solstice, the cold stones of Stonehenge, a mythical sun god, the folklore of Santa Clause, or generic materialism, why not look into the greatest gift of all in knowing the person of Jesus Christ this season?

After weeding through all of the commercialism and paganism of the holiday, the true joy of Christmas is found in personally knowing the true Christ of Christmas. The same love that drove Christ to the cross is available to you today, and to everyone that will receive it. The best gift for Christians this season might be courage to share the gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit in a way that demonstrates both the truth and love of Christ. And the best gift for non-believers might be the gift of openmindedness, to consider the claims of Christ and discuss them seriously with a knowledgeable Christian. This may lead to receiving Christ himself, or it may lead to more questions. But if you persist in seeking the truth of Christ with a truly open mind and open heart, I can guarantee that you will also find him to be the greatest gift of all.

Tags: the best type of gift, politically correct Christmas, politically correct gift, the true joy of Christmas, petition bans Christmas at University of Virginia, Christmas safe spaces, secular safe spaces on university campuses, pagan Christmas, wintoer solstice

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