Thursday is Christmas Day. Most will awaken, share gifts, spend a day off work with family and friends, and some will even talk about the meaning of the day -- the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. In the truest sense, we celebrate the birth of the king of the Jews and the savior of the world (in the Judeo-Christian tradition) who taught and lived grace, love, mercy, righteousness, justice and victory over evil.
In America, whether one believes or not, the national holiday or holy day is observed. Some are even offended by the audacity to celebrate one of the key observances of faith.
There are a lot of things in our "united" states that serve as fodder for fighting and fuel the offended. So, as a warning, stop reading if you don't want to have your sensibilities tested.
Imagine conflict that places two world views in opposition. In that conflict, one side demands that the other forsake its beliefs and renounce its faith in order to even exist.
It is 2014, and this is happening.
In August, speaking on behalf of Iraqi Christians, Chaldean-American businessman (and Christian) Mark Arabo said "the evil being carried out by ISIS militants in Iraq now includes shocking beheadings of children," as he addressed the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria's violent acts toward Christians.
Those violent acts include, but aren't limited to, removing Christians from their homes (marking the houses with a red painted stamp), demanding conversion to Islam, forcing payment of a tax, or death. Arabo noted that despite some Christians' ability to pay the fine to the Islamic militants, their wives and daughters still are being kidnapped for sexual abuse, then murdered.
Back in August, when we were talking college football, return to school and Ebola, Christian genocide was occurring in Iraq, with a park in Mosul actually serving as the "trophy" display of the evil Islamic militants. Arabo observed firsthand, "There's actually a park in Mosul [where] they've actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick."
Just last week, the leader of the Anglican Church of Baghdad, Canon Andrew White, who was ordered by the archbishop of Canterbury to flee to Israel, spoke of four Iraqi Christian children who were confronted by Islamic militants with the demand: "You say the words that you will follow Muhammad."
The vicar of Baghdad continued, "The children, all under 15, four of them, they said, 'No, we love Yeshua [Jesus], we have always loved Yeshua.'"
"They chopped all their heads off. How do you respond to that? You just cry."
As you unwrap presents and sift through your receipts for the expenses of Christmas, I wonder if you'd ask yourself, "How much does Christmas cost me?"
On a daily basis, in my work, in my daily activities, in my relationships, in my choices of entertainment, how I spend my money, all of these things, is there a cost, a price that I pay for taking the name of Christ and being a follower? Is my faith as strong as the children who proclaimed, "We have always loved Yeshua, we have always followed Yeshua. Yeshua has always been with us" in the face of adversity?
For those who've been authentically proven through persecution, they'll never hear, "I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot ... So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth (Revelation 3:15-16)."
Use this Christmas to remember the reason for the season ... and for each day of the year. O come all ye faithful!
Robin Smith, immediate past Tennessee Republican Party chairwoman, is owner of Rivers Edge Alliance.