Treat Over Greet

Someone recently asked me why I have a “Happy Holidays” flashing sign on our porch rather than a “Merry Christmas” sign. The question was actually, “What kind of church do you pastor where you have a Happy Holidays sign rather than a Merry Christmas sign?” I jokingly said I was trying to not offend my Muslim friends and that since my wife’s boss was Jewish, we didn’t want to offend him either.

Truth be told, I’ve had the sign for several years, long before the “Happy Holidays vs Merry Christmas” debate came to light. And if you want my opinion, it’s a ridiculous debate. Saying Happy Holidays doesn’t take Christ out of Christmas anymore than saying Merry Christmas puts Christ in Christmas. Christmas is not about how we greet people; it’s about God coming to earth in the birth of Jesus. It’s about the hope and peace and joy and love he brings.

The enemy loves to get well-meaning Christians squabbling about a greeting or some other non-issue. Even to the point that these well-meaning Christians make some unwise decisions­—such as boycotting a store whose employees are told to greet people with Happy Holidays. These well-meaning Christians don’t realize that by boycotting the store and thus decreasing the store’s revenue, they may actually be contributing to Christian employees losing their jobs. This is not treating others with love, but this is how the enemy loves to spoil the holidays, by getting us to focus on silly things like which greeting is more Christ-like.

Jesus is more concerned about how you treat people than how you greet people. He reminds us that the New Commandment is to love one another. Judging how we greet each other during the holidays is not sharing love. It’s making a mountain out of a molehill, as the saying goes.

As a follower of Jesus, I’m not going to fall for the ridiculous debates about nothing and I suggest you don’t either. Feel free to greet people with Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanza, or with any other greeting. Just make your greeting sincere. Ask God to give you his love for others so those others can sense your sincerity and they can see Christ in you.

Seeing Christ in you makes any greeting valuable, and it makes others feel valued and included. Have a blessed season.

—Pastor Rick Shallenberger

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