On December 25th we recognize Christmas Day, as the birthday of Jesus Christ. Yet many of the Christians, that I’ve come in contact with, seem to be more concerned with sales, gifts, and parties than they are with the birth of Jesus. To support this perception all I have to do is listen to what they have to say about their plans, look at the ads on television, in newspapers, in magazines, and in-store windows. It also affects their parenting, causing parents to teach their children to be good so that Santa will reward them. What happened to be good for goodness sake? Why do we make being good a job instead of a way of life? As a result, our children are more concerned with what Santa will bring them than they are with what Jesus came to give them. After all, is a child considered a good child because they are good or because they do what they are told?
This time of the year, America seems to use Christianity as it adheres to the principles of capitalism. So I ask; can Christianity and Capitalism co-exist? I don’t think so; because in a capitalist society, there are two groups of people, the wolves, and the sheep. Christianity is supposed to be about love, faith, and living according to the principles of cooperation.
Maybe that’s why Jesus spent most of his time with the “poor” because unlike the “rich”, the “poor” needed each other to survive, and to do that, they had to live by the principles of cooperation. A perfect example of these principles would be the practice of sharecropping. As a child, I saw my relatives, in South Carolina, sharecrop. They didn’t have the money to hire people to work their land, so they would come together to work on each other’s land. They would work on one family member’s land today and tomorrow they would move to another member’s land until the entire family’s land had been harvested.
Capitalism doesn’t care about love and cooperation; because by its nature, it breeds separation by class and wealth. This kind of separation eventually breeds contempt and when that happens, the separation goes from the rich and the poor to the rich vs. the poor or the landlord vs. the landless. Christmas is one of the biggest and most significant holidays in the U.S.A. This is the time of the year when people get together, enjoy some good old family time and, of course, spend copious amounts of money. Last year, holiday retail sales surpassed the trillion-dollar mark (yes, 12 zeros), with U.S. households spending an average of $1,536 during the season.
Michael R. Strain is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and he wrote the following:
is reason to think that the modern celebration of Christmas is incompatible with Christianity. This can be understood most simply by juxtaposing the birth, life, and message of Jesus of Nazareth with the civic rituals of Christmas.
According to the Gospel of St. Luke, Jesus was born in a barn, there being no room for him and his parents in the inn at Bethlehem. His way of living forsook the acquisition of wealth and worldly goods. His message celebrated and elevated the poor, and he was quick to warn of the danger of materialism: “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Two thousand years later, observe the Christmas celebration in our modern, capitalist culture: a shocking emphasis on gifts, material exchange, and consumption. Christians believe that it is imperative to know Jesus and that to know him we have to live like him. It is very difficult to argue that the civic rituals of modern Christmas reflect Jesus’s way of living.
Christmas comes once a year, but it highlights a larger question: Does capitalism, and the consumerism it enables, have adverse effects on the moral character of individuals and society? Is modern capitalism incompatible with Christian living?
Here again, it is easy to argue that it is hard to live a deeply Christian life in a market economy. And not just because of the culture of consumption.”
I truly believe that if someone were to ask Jesus what he wanted for his birthday he’d say “for mankind to love one another” and that’s a gift that can’t be wrapped and won’t fit under any tree.