Every holiday season, people ask me to pray for broken relationships caused by conflicting holiday observances. So much hurt in the name of “defending the faith”! Consider this: Is having or not having a Christmas tree in your living room worth more than your marriage? Is candlelight more important than compassion? Do you really, truly believe that God wants you to divide over a ham? During the holidays especially, people get so hung up on their traditions and their beliefs that they forget we share a common ground, and that common ground is supposed to be love.
Corrie ten Boom–a Dutch Christian and Holocaust survivor—tells of meeting with other believers to share a smuggled Bible while imprisoned in Ravensbrüch concentration camp. In that place of true evil, where the superficiality of “church” was stripped away, all that was left was pure worship.
In her book, The Hiding Place, she wrote:
They were services like no others, these times in Barracks 28. A single meeting might include a recital of the Magnificat in Latin by a group of Roman Catholics, a whispered hymn by some Lutherans, and a sotto-voce chant by Eastern Orthodox women. With each moment, the crowd around us would swell, packing the nearby platforms, hanging over the edges, until the high structures groaned and swayed.
At last, either Betsy or I would open the Bible. Because only the Hollanders could understand the Dutch text, we would translate aloud in German. And then we would hear the life-giving words passed back along the aisles in French, Polish, Russian, Czech, back into Dutch. They were little previews of heaven, these evenings beneath the lightbulb. I would think of Haarlem, each substantial church set behind its wrought-iron fence and its barrier of doctrine. And I would know again that in darkness God’s truth shines most clear.
This holiday season, let’s remember to love sacrificially, to yield our rights to others even as our Savior did. “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV)