That “X” in Xmas… What does it mean?

Call it a pet peeve. Call it hypersensitivity to conflict and strife. Whatever it is, I’m SO tired of the griping about “taking the Christ out of Christmas.”

Yes, Christmas is ridiculously over-commercialized. Yes, Santa Claus gets top billing from the world. But would we really WANT to subject the image of our Savior and Lord to the hype of the season? Drape him with Christmas lights, portray him sitting beside a decorated tree with a wrapped package in hand? Really?

But, Jesus is the reason for the season!
Yeah, but Jesus is the reason for EVERY season …  football season, baseball season, ski season, hunting season … Hmm. If only the church would do battle for the name and honor and glory of the Christ during all THOSE seasons as militantly as they do during Christmas!

But it’s Jesus’s birthday!
Um, no, it’s not. Based on interpretation of the scriptures coupled with historical records, the actual birth of the Christ in Bethlehem took place in the spring. Sometime in the third century, the leaders of the early church, seeking to direct their congregations away from the pagan holidays they were accustomed to celebrating, decided to celebrate the birth of the Christ at the same time as numerous pagan holidays, including the birth of the Babylonian “queen of heaven.” (It’s the same mindset we use today with our “harvest parties” in an attempt to turn Christians away from observing Halloween.

And then there’s the distress about abbreviating Christmas to “Xmas.” Of all the arguments, I find this one the most irritating. Why? Because it exposes our tendency to choose offense over knowledge. The use of “X” in place of “Christ” was never intended as a slight to Jesus. During the days of the Roman persecution of the church, believers adopted the “ichthus” – or fish – symbol to represent their faith. According to R.C. Sproul, “Fish in Greek (ichthus) involved the use of the letters for the Greek phrase “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.”

Saying “happy holidays” is offensive!
Actually, the word holiday comes from Old English and means “holy days.” I would like to have “happy holy days” all year round, wouldn’t you?

So the next time you’re tempted to jump in, feet first, to the so-called “war on Christmas,” take a deep breath and ask yourself, WWJD? Or, as the early church might have put it, what would X do? Somehow I doubt Jesus would be having a hissy fit over how much appreciation He receives during the month we’ve labeled “the Christmas season.” Instead, I fear He might be grieved by the strife, offense, hatred, abuse, and division that His followers have brought into the mix.

Maybe it’s time to set aside our frenetic attempts to defend our Lord and instead love the unlovely and show mercy to the lost in the same way He did during His life on earth. Let’s move past petty arguments about a pagan holiday that was overtaken by organized religion and move into the kind of acceptance and love demonstrated by our Jesus.

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