I thought Jesus was the reason for the Christmas season.

Did that change? If so, I didn’t get the memo.

How many times is America, a country founded on Judeo-Christian principles, going to disrespect God?

How many times is Corporate America going to treat Christianity as a commodity to be packaged and sold?

How many times is the “Christmas season” going to be hijacked by the retail industry?

Christmas is a time where Christians all over the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

We celebrate God taking on human form, destined to be crucified, so that our sins would be forgiven.

Rather than see it as the sacred holiday that it is, the retail industry only sees dollar signs, and can’t wait to capitalize on it.

I mean REALLY can’t wait.

A Retailer Stoops to a New Low

Retail giant Kmart thinks “buying more stuff” is the reason for Christmas, and sent it’s message out loud and clear.

No sooner did the calendar flip over from August to September than Kmart began airing it’s first Christmas commercial.

In September!

It hit a sour note with some shoppers who let their outrage be known on the company’s Facebook page.

Retailers have a habit of hijacking the birth of Jesus for their own money-making purposes, but Kmart’s early start is particularly irksome.

It’s not far-fetched to call them enemies of the cross.

As the Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 3:18-19:

“For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.”

Good people, Christianity is NOT a business. It’s a relationship with God.

What’s The Big Deal?

But Ani, you argue, why would it bother you that a company wants to start the Christmas shopping season early?

My answer is, for the same reason Jesus overturned the tables of the money-changers in the courtyard of Herod’s Temple.

It’s the corruption of God’s fellowship with man.

It’s the corruption of celebrating who God is, and what His grace is all about.

It’s the corruption of a time set aside for worshiping Almighty God.

That is what upset Jesus.

Let’s take a trip back in time to compare today’s hijacking of the Christmas season, to the money-changers and livestock sellers in the temple courtyard of Jesus’ day.

During Passover, hundreds of thousands of Jews would trek to Jerusalem to make sacrifices, and pay a “half-shekel” temple tax for atonement. (Exodus 30:11-16)

The poor would buy pigeons, others doves, still others livestock to sacrifice. (Lev. 14:22,  Luke 2:24)

Since Roman and Greek coins were not allowed in the temple due to their graven images, the money-changers set up shop and charged a fee to convert foreign monies to Hebrew shekels. They even loaned money at exorbitant rates.

This was done in God’s house, as Jesus rightly called it.

They took advantage of a time to worship God for their own financial gain. (Does this not sound like today’s retailers?)

Matthew 21: 12-13 describes the moment:

   “Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Also see Isaiah 56:7, Jer. 7:11)

Buying, selling, early-bird Christmas commercials, Lay-A-Way heaven … Since when did we start putting a price tag on the birth of Jesus?

Paul reminds us in Philippians 3:8:

     “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”

Instead of being allowed to celebrate the birth of our Savior peacefully and reverentially, retailers have taken the tradition of gift-giving to a new low.

Ever hear a non-Christian retailer say Christmas is about the birth of Jesus?

Equally troubling, many retailers will not allow employees to say “Merry Christmas,” for fear of offending non-Christians.

Saying “Merry Christmas” is not offensive in the least. It’s His birthday!

Retailers are saying Christmas isn’t so much about the birth of Jesus as it is about making the sale, a season for “buying more stuff.”

Buy, buy, buy. More stuff, more stuff, more stuff, as if that has anything to do with why Jesus came to Earth in the first place.

Salvation or Stuff?

Did Jesus sacrifice Himself on the cross so you can have salvation and forgiveness of sins, or to “buy more stuff?”

I really don’t want to come across sounding like the Grinch who stole Christmas.

I want to come across as the sinner saved by grace who marvels at the birth of Christ for the miracle that it is. His birth is our redemption! His birth is our reconciliation with God!

Wouldn’t it be something if the CEO of Kmart aired a commercial that said:

“We started the Christmas season early to honor the birth of Jesus because we can’t wait to bow down to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We felt the need to let you know in September that we are here to worship the Lamb that was slain for us all.

“I wanted to remind you of the Christmas season early because I will never know how much it cost to see my sins upon the cross.

“Remember that Jesus is the reason for the season. Because I was dead in my sins and now I am alive in Christ.” (Col. 2:13-14)

Ok, I’m a big fan of America’s free enterprise and capitalistic system.

Retailers, by their very nature, are not evil empires. We need retailers.

We need Sears, Kmart, Home Depot, Best Buy, and all the other stores out there for jobs, to provide products we want and to keep the economy humming.

And yes, we enjoy the tradition of giving gifts at Christmas time, but retailers have a tendency to spoil this act of love.

In their zeal to make a dollar, retailers ignore the reason for the season: Jesus.

Bad enough that Jesus had to be born in a barn, today’s retailers would throw Joseph, Mary, and the Baby Jesus out of the barn to stockpile big-screen TVs.

Yes, there is chastisement coming when a company like Kmart is so incredibly disrespectful of the meaning of Christmas that it needs to be called out.

There will come a day when “buying more stuff” will go the way of wood, hay and stubble, burned up in an instant. (1Cor. 3:12-13)

But the praise and worship of Jesus is forever. We should honor his birth, not market it.

That is something Kmart and other retailers have yet to grasp.

At Christmas we celebrate the birth of the risen king, we celebrate a relationship with the God of Israel, we celebrate God sacrificing His only Son so that we can have forgiveness of sins … not to “buy more stuff.”

To be clear, this is not a call to boycott.

Christmas is not about boycotting but about embracing the birth of Jesus. It’s about love for the Savior and His great love for us.

Just keep in mind that when retailers push “buy more stuff” on you, that you don’t have to follow the masses.

Just know who your God is, and why you celebrate Him.  Jesus is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

And one day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord …even Kmart.