I’ve been thinking about this post for a couple of days. Here’s the thing – I know that this will not sit well with everyone who reads it. I’m okay with that, but please don’t send me hate mail.

There’s a meme going around Facebook the last couple of weeks that really bothers me. I’ve tried to take it as light-hearted and funny, but the truth is, it’s neither of those things. It says something like: “Don’t tell me I have to say Happy Holidays. I will Merry Christmas the crap out of you.”

Now, I have a lot of good, sweet, kind friends who have been reposting this. If that’s you, please know that I am not singling out any one person. I’ve seen it several times, and I really don’t remember who put it up.

Here’s what I find problematic with this particular sentiment: Most of the people who are posting it are upset that the world has lost the Christ-focus at Christmas. That’s not a bad thing. The bad thing is when Christians who are supposed to be the light pointing the world to Christ forget that we show Christ to the world through our love.

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 1 John 2:9-10

Or, as the old hymn says:

They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love. They will know we are Christians by our love.

I saw a recent tweet (I’m sorry to say I can’t remember who it was from) that said something like, “Shouting Merry Christmas in response to a clerk’s store-mandated Happy Holidays is not evangelism.”

If we really want to reach the world this Christmas with the light of Christ, we need to start by showing love. Be kind to that over-worked and under-paid store clerk – even if she is not kind to you. Wish her a Merry Christmas if you want to (you do still have that freedom of speech), but do so with a gentle tone and a caring spirit.

The truth is, saying Happy Holidays does not make someone an enemy of God or the Church, just like saying Merry Christmas does not make someone a Christian. In fact, Happy Holidays is a perfectly fine phrase. I am less concerned about the greeting I’m given than about the eternal state of the person I’m speaking with, and if I need to overlook something that simple in order to begin to build a relationship with someone who needs to know the Creator of the Universe, then I will.

The world is watching Christians this Christmas. This is, after all, one of our big holidays. We talk a lot about “keeping Christ in Christmas.” They are listening to our words, but they want to see actions that match the message of love we are proclaiming.

What are some simple ways you can demonstrate the love of God, a love that sacrificed all to save us, to a watching world this Christmas?

I am also over at Grace for Moms today talking about Christmas Eve traditions. There may even be a recipe for one of my favorite holiday treats. Please join me there!