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So Much For Christmas

Dr. Paul L. Maier

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A CHRISTMAS CRISIS?

So many Christians worry about the challenges facing Christianity today, such as the plateauing of church membership, attacks upon the faith made in our novels, magazines, media, and even by theologians (so-called) who ought to know better. Then there is the competition for people's souls waged by Islam -- the second largest religious faith on the planet -- or by religions imported from the Far East, not to mention the made-in-America religious systems which are the least believable of all. Some wonder, sadly, if there is much to celebrate this Christmas when we add all the economic hardships of the current recession.

But it may be well to remember "the rest of the story," namely, that --

* Christianity remains the most successful phenomenon in the history of the
world. With 2.3 billion believers, it is the largest religion or political/
social grouping of any people on earth.

* Christianity, not Islam, is the fastest growing religion in the world. This
may not be true in Europe, but it is the case in the southern hemisphere
and the rest of thee world.

* No celebration on earth rivals that of Christmas. Hindus may have their
Dewali, Muslims their Ramadan, and secularists their New Year
Festivals, but Christmas overshadows them all.

* Christianity controls the calendar. Most of the world counts the years
from the birth of Christ. Secularists may replace years A.D. with the years
C.E., to be sure, but the actual year count remains exactly the same.

So, do we have reasons enough to celebrate this Christmas despite all the worries?

I should certainly hope so!

But the greatest reason of all for our holiday cheer is not a matter of comparisons or statistics, but the wonderful, festive reminder that God repaired what He had created by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, as Lord and Savior for us all. This present was wrapped not with red or green ribbons but in swaddling clothes. It lay not under a dazzlingly decorated tree but in a manger with a straw mattress. As always, it's the Gift that counts, not its wrappings.

-- Paul L. Maier

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