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Bumpersticker Theology

Recently I have been scanning the parking lots at the local stores in our area for bumper stickers.  It seems nowadays everyone voices their opinions with a catchy phrase or witty saying on the back of their car.  What I find most amusing is the vast number of bumper stickers seeking to make a theological or religious claim, most notably from those who see this world going to hell and a handbasket.  Particularly, I find the bumper sticker 'Keep Christ in Christmas' most amusing.  Why?

For one thing, the simple assertion that Christ was taken out of Christmas is absurd.  Now, I get the messsage behind the words.  This or that person is claiming that our culture, its schools, politics, media, and messages seek to remove anything that is moral and anything that smacks of Christian beliefs.  Well, let's think about that for a minute.  Although there is often a hostile attitude towards the credibility of religious beliefs in our culture, doesn't our culture also claim to be tolerant of a wide diversity of beliefs?  Maybe part of the resistance to evangelical belief and practices stem from the posture in which those who claim those beliefs hold them (arrogance instead of humility, non-inflammatory engagement with others). 

Secondly, is it really possible to take Christ out of Christmas?  Christ when he came to this Earth was despised, rejected, cast out, abandoned and taken as a minister of Satan by some.  The situation for Christ is no different today.  What we fail to see as believers is that Christ is present with his people by the Holy Spirit in whatever capacity they find themselves in.  Although many laugh at the very name of Christ, I believe more people are captivated by him in the gospels.  Not only do we find Jesus welcoming outcasts and sinners, but we also find coming into physical contact with them, even healing their broken bodies.  Secondly, we see Jesus representing a radical new ethic in the NT, one that is uncompromisingly peaceful, one that does not yield the sword for power, and finally, an ethic that embodies the sacrifical love of God (in his death for sinners and in his ministry).  The same vision of radically stepping out in faith and follow Jesus is still apparent today.  It is a ridiculous notion that Christ can be taken out of Christmas, for he is present with the Spirit in the lives of believers as they pursue holiness, righteousness, justice, and mercy. 

On a similar note, if what is meant by keeping Christ in Christmas is somehow related to a pursuit of conservative, evangelical Christianity alongside a conservative political stance, then we should be very cautious in too closely aligning ourselves with a particular group.  Why?  For one, when we connect the dots between a specific group with 'Keeping Christ in Christmas,' there is always the push to castigate one side of the political spectrum for the sake of promoting another (those liberals, those conservative are always doing x,y,z).  Secondly, when we seek to mark ourselves off as the pure ones, we fail to see our sin and distortions of what is actually true.  Solzhenitsyn once said, "Good and evil run right through the heart of every man."  So as we look at bumper stickers in the future, let's begin to ask ourselves what that person is actually trying to say and what motivation lies behind the sticker.

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