It’s that time of year again. As Christmas lights go up and nativity scenes are brought out of the sheds, court cases are filed. Atheists and agnostics lawyer-up in their attempt to keep recognition of the nativity out of the public square. In fact, some groups have gone as far as to create parody nativities that mock the Christmas story. They expend time, effort and money to dismantle Christmas celebrations and ridicule those who enjoy them.

What’s going on here? Are they really threatened by a scene of some animals and a young family? Why is ridding the holidays of this dangerous tableau their goal? What word best describes their actions?

Taken as a whole – fear. Listen to them. Forget legal or illegal, forget our Constitution and our Founding Fathers. Stop debating for a moment and look at what they are willing to do to get away from the baby in the manger. This isn’t an academic argument, it’s a passionate reaction against a message they find extremely threatening. But why does the celebration of an ancient holiday elicit such a strong response?

Because they recognize something that we’ve forgotten. Christianity is threatening. We should be grateful to the protesters for reminding us that Baby Jesus stands for something more than presents, a tree and eggnog. He was… He is… offensive.

Christ told the world that we have each been evaluated and have each been found lacking. Our best acts, our best intentions are not enough to please a Holy, All-Powerful God. Is it any wonder that this message is rejected by a society obsessed with justifying their actions – a society in which “sin” is the only offensive word left in the lexicon?

And while Jesus offered the only way to be reconciled to God, it wasn’t without cost. To follow Christ we must give up our freedom and rights. We are wholly dependent on His work and His mercy. How does that assertion match with the latest self-help book?

While defending Christianity’s place in American culture, Christians shouldn’t forget Christ’s true message. We sing about the baby in the manger and wonder when the world protests, but we shouldn’t be surprised. When that baby grew up He reminded people that they were sinners – even the religious leaders. He taught that He alone could offer forgiveness and it so outraged them that they sought His life.

His message directly opposes human instinct and worldly desires…and two millennia later His message hasn’t changed.

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