It is Christmas Eve! Many of us look forward to this time of year for many reasons. I include time with family and friends, all the good foods, uplifting movies and music, people’s kindness among those reasons. Of course the greatest reason of all to look forward to this time is that we celebrate the birth of a savior. Who would not want to celebrate the birth of the one who would save us from our fate of separation from God for all time because of our rebellion?  

As I was thinking of that I was intrigued by a couple of articles in the news today about how the celebration of Christmas was angering folks. In Jakarta, Indonesia, Muslims were angry that the Malls were “too demonstrative” in their Christmas decorations. In North Korea officials were calling a huge Christmas tree just across the border in South Korea, “a provocative propaganda symbol.” Neither of these perceived offence’s that elicited these negative remarks were overtly Christian in any way, but I was reminded that the reactions of the Muslims in Indonesia and the North Koreans to Christmas is really a reflection on the reaction of many people to the benevolent offer of salvation made by Jesus.

What is it about Jesus that brings offense? Is it His offer to bring reconciliation of the broken relationship between man and God? Can’t be that! Who does not want to have a relationship with God? Could it be that He wants to give eternal purpose to our lives? Can’t be that, we all want our lives to count, not just in this life but forever. Maybe it is the offer to bring Peace between men? No, it can’t be that because we all want to live in peace and amity with everyone. Doesn’t it just wear you out to be at odds with others? It does me, that can’t be it if we really think about it. Who wants to always be on edge or on guard in all of your relationships? No there is something else that makes us react with anger at the celebration of Christmas or the celebration of Christ.

Christmas celebrates a baby’s birth, and that can’t be offensive, unless that baby is more than just a baby. Herod the Great, King of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ birth knew Jesus was not just a baby. He saw him for what He was and that was a scandal to Herod. Herod is instructive for us. He knew that Jesus was to be a king or a ruler and that just was not going to fit into Herod’s plans. Herod was in charge and he was not going to make space for a baby to usurp him. Could this be the reason so many people react negatively to celebrations of Christmas? Do they see Jesus as the ruler that He was born to be and instinctively rebel as did Herod?

Well I suspect that is the reason so many either rebel against Christmas or are even a bit embarrassed by the celebration of Christmas. Jesus is not just a baby in a manger to be admired, but He is savior of the world. He is Savior of everyone in the world – not just Christians, but anyone who will come to Him. Anyone who is savior of the world is also a ruler and supreme King. We can not embrace the salvation without recognizing His lordship over our lives. Muslims can not accept His Lordship and neither can the dictatorship in North Korea. Their reactions should be obvious, but we should ask ourselves, do we shy away from Christmas; do we shy away from Christ? Let’s embrace His birth, His salvation and most of all His Lordship. He deserves it, He earned it.