By Sarah Nelson, EdD Contributor, US Daily Review
Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem during the time of King Herod. The king was disturbed by the birth of Christ, especially the desire of the Magi to worship him as King of the Jews to fulfill prophecy. The birth of Christ threatened Herod so much that he launched a political campaign using the best social networks available to him at that time. He assessed the socio-political threat caused by Christ and aggressively plotted to eliminate it as any astute and misguided politician would seek to do. In the first covert operation to kill Christ, Herod called an emergency meeting of chief priests, and teachers of the law to find out where the Christ would be born. Then, pretending he was interested in worshipping Christ, Herod secretly called the Magi and ordered them to search for the child, find him, and report back to him.
The Magi found baby Jesus in a manger where they worshipped him but they did not tell Herod where to find him. When Herod concluded the Magi had double crossed him, he gave orders to kill all the two year old boys or younger in Bethlehem and the surrounding towns. Herod believed this would eliminate the message of Christmas completely. Joseph and Mary escaped to Egypt to avoid this massacre. They returned to Israel when Herod died and operation “kill Jesus” had been concluded (Matthew chapters 1 and 2). What Joseph and Mary didn’t know is that more than 2,000 years later, the birth of Christ would still be considered a socio-political problem especially by Christians residing in the USA.
In 2005, I snagged great seats to witness my first historic American moment – President Bush’s inauguration. Having voted for the first time in America, everything about this inauguration felt patriotic – then my almost perfect experience was interrupted when Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell concluded the 55th inaugural prayer with “respecting persons of all faiths, I humbly submit this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ”. His apologetic tone concerned me and my mind flashed back to four months earlier at my Naturalization ceremony. Although most people being naturalized were non-Muslims, the speaker had quoted from the Quran explaining we are people from many nations and cultures, forming one nation. He didn’t apologize or paraphrase to make non-Muslims comfortable.
Why do American Christians feel the need to apologize for their faith in Jesus Christ? American Christians experience difficulties in celebrating their faith because they forget that the basis of God’s dealings with all people is His unchanging love for them. “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). This love expressed in Christ gives people a firm foundation at a time when everything on earth is shaking such as the earthquakes and floods in Asia and Australia, banking institutions failing in Europe and the USA, etc. God’s love expressed in Christ is a firm foundation that can never be shaken. It is a great privilege for us as Christians to share this firm foundation of God’s unchanging love for all people especially with non-Christians during this season.
This week, an older woman interrupted my conversation with our shared tennis coach Andy to wish him a Merry Christmas. A few minutes later, after talking to her husband, she interrupted us again, but this time it was to apologize to Andy ‘I meant to wish you a Happy Hanukkah. I am really sorry I didn’t mean to offend you’. Andy reassured her that he was not offended but she didn’t seem convinced. I grew up in a very diverse culture with multiple religions around me in Kenya. Nobody was ever offended by the name of Jesus Christ being used by Christians when they prayed. It is with deep regret I listen to Christians around me apologizing for proclaiming their faith in Christ. In the United States this apologetic tone is mainly found in Christians but not in citizens of other faiths.
This year the Obama administration asked Congress not to pay for Christmas cards with tax dollars reminding me how Herod tried and failed to stop Christ. When facing political correctness, Christians ought to remember “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Christians can share God’s love this season by performing random acts of kindness, and giving to charity. We as Christians don’t need to hide or go into exile like Joseph and Mary did many years ago in order to celebrate Christmas. May the principle of God’s unchanging love, expressed in the birth of Christ over 2000 years ago, transcend politics as we wish all Americans a very Merry Christmas!