By now, you should be well aware of the New Atheism movement led by best-selling authors such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris, and publicized by a recent humanist ad campaign in London that featured the words, “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” A similar campaign is on its way to our side of the pond–the Washington, D.C. area, to be more precise. The new campaign, funded by the American Humanist Association, will plaster “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake,” across buses this holiday season.
Obviously, we have little control over the decisions of groups such as the American Humanist Association (or retailers that choose to say “Happy Holidays”). What we can control, however, is our response. We can be indignant and outraged, and we can respond with as much anger and vindictiveness as we can manage. We can exact our revenge by boycotting the bus system and any companies that don’t embrace Christmas enthusiastically enough to satisfy our zeal. With God on our side, surely we can put those companies out of business as we make our voice and values heard. In the spirit of and defense of Christmas we can be angry, vengeful, and vindictive on the Web, on retaliatory ad campaigns, and on well-produced videos.
Or, we could use our passion for God, our loud voice, and our creative talent to communicate the love, grace, and hope that Christmas embodies–regardless of how the world around us behaves. This is certainly the more difficult response. It requires us to let go, to trust God, and reject the pattern of this world by resisting the urge to strike back–to fight fire with fire. It is difficult to love people first, to love people who don’t love you back. But aren’t glad that’s exactly what Christmas is all about (John 3:16)? Aren’t glad that while we were still sinners, God loved us and Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)?
Instead of demanding that our culture act more Christ-like, let’s start demanding that of ourselves. Let’s love and serve those whose hearts seem far from God, in hope that they might catch a glimpse of him. That’s the choice we can and should make this Christmas–a choice that can and should be communicated in everything we say, do, and create.