Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Insisting that others cry, "Uncle"...I mean, "Merry Christmas"... is a rotten Christian witness

Craig Williams has a few solid points to make about Christians who insist that clerks at stores they frequent tell them, "Merry Christmas."

When will these Christians---I would describe some of them as latter-day Pharisees---learn that they don't give the world a positive, compelling witness for Jesus Christ when they attempt to employ coercion in order to leverage acquiescence to their preferred cultural customs? (After all, forcing people to say, "Merry Christmas" as we sign our credit card receipts doesn't bring them any closer to Christ's kingdom!)

When will these same Christian legalists understand that Christ is interested in His followers establishing loving relationships with our non-Christian or marginally-religious neighbors so that they can become interested in how Jesus changes lives for the better and so, want to follow Jesus too?

When I opened my Bible to First Peter a few moments ago, I notice that the apostle's words have not been rescinded where he said:

"Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence." (First Peter 3:15-16)

Peter was no wallflower. He had a well-known penchant for shoving his feet directly into his mouth and for getting into dust-ups with people. Yet, through both humiliating experience and the inspiration of God's Spirit, Peter had come to realize the importance of sharing the life-changing good news with gentleness and reverence. (Notice he doesn't say "with arrogance and coercion"?)

That's how we twenty-first century Christians need to interact with our neighbors. Craig is absolutely right on the money!

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