If the slogan is a plea to keep Christmas from degenerating into a completely secular holiday, it’s several generations too late! For most Americans, Christmas is about giving and receiving gifts, enjoying family and friends, having a brief vacation from work, and having an excuse to overeat and watch college bowl games on TV. They aren’t plotting to keep Christ out of their Christmas celebration. Most people have never put Jesus into their Christmas. How can they “keep” Him where He has never been? The problem isn’t with Christ, it’s with the hearts and minds of people who see no need for a Savior.
For those of us who, by God’s grace, know and love Jesus as Savior and King, there are two holidays called Christmas: we celebrate the birth of our Savior, with all that means in terms of God’s redeeming love for sinners like ourselves. We also enjoy the cultural holiday with its Christmas trees, colorful decorations, gift giving, good food, and even songs about Santa. It is we who know Jesus as Lord and Savior who need the reminder to keep Christ in our Christmas celebrations.
On the other hand, amazingly enough, Christ is in no danger of being left out of Christmas. With all the efforts of municipalities to ban manger scenes from city properties, or the efforts of public schools to keep any religious thought out of the minds of impressionable children, Christ keeps slipping in! He’s there in the mall in the background music: “Christ by highest heaven adored, Christ the everlasting Lord, Late in time behold Him come, offspring of the virgin’s womb. Veiled in flesh the Godhead see…” He’s there in countless Christmas music programs on television and in cities across our country: “Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her king…” God’s announcement: “For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given…” goes forth every year in our culture. It’s hard to imagine an American who hasn’t heard about Mary and Joseph and the baby, about shepherds and angels and wise men from the east.
But they need more than a slogan-length reminder that Christ has something to do with Christmas. They need God to shine the light of the gospel into the darkness of their hearts. They need God to show them their need for a Savior and to reveal to them the glory and sufficiency of Christ as Redeemer. And God has called us to communicate that message:
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (II Cor. 5:20-21).
May God make us winsome ambassadors for Christ this Christmas!