My daughter wrapped some gifts for Christmas and everyone knows that when you use the wrapping paper up, what is left is a cardboard tube that works great for a fighting sword; so there lay two cardboard swords. I grabbed one and my son grabbed the other—and the fight was on!—until with one swipe, the porcelain manger scene went crashing to the floor. Yikes! We set the shepherds up, Mary and Joseph, and the manger with baby Jesus, all back in place. But lying on the floor was a little 3/8 inch piece of porcelain; it must be the end of the shepherd’s staff… but no—it was the arm of baby Jesus! Baby Jesus got his arm broken as collateral damage in our sword fight. “Oh man, what is Mom going to think,” was being asked between the two of us as we started laughing really hard.
I apologized to my wife and promised to fix the porcelain baby arm of Jesus. But the question is, have I sinned? Some may say I was being disrespectful to what the manger scene represents. They may even say I sinned because I was not remorseful and repentant over the fact, but rather couldn’t help but laugh. Should we feel bad for laughing? Do we ask for forgiveness? I go back and forth between “we” and “I” because “I” was the one who struck the nativity scene, but “we” couldn’t help but laugh when we thought about the whole scene.
Sure, I did apologize to my wife because she has had the manger scene for many years, but that is the only thing I feel bad about doing. One may say it is all about respect and since the manger scene represents that holy night, well then breaking the arm of baby Jesus and not feeling remorseful and repentant is downright wrong! If someone was to say this, I would just reply, “Well, if that is how you feel and if you were to break the porcelain arm of Jesus and you want to cry, mourn, repent, and seek forgiveness for doing so, then that is between you and the Lord.” But how many of you would have a problem with that attitude as well? How many of you reading this have a problem with nativity scenes in the first place?
Some people really like nativity scenes and may even find it as an occasion to think about the miracle of Christmas.
This brings up another issue, and that is, are you less spiritual if you don’t have manger scenes? A few years ago a Christian gentleman in our town couldn’t believe I didn’t have an outdoor manger scene. He said, “You’re a Christian and you don’t believe in having a manger scene as a witness at Christmas?” “No, that is not how I celebrate Christmas,” I added. I believe that, as a Christian, I get to think about, worship, and adore the Lord Jesus Christ all year round by being connected to a local body of believers and by verbally witnessing to others. I told him that I didn’t think it was wrong for him to have one, but I told him he needs to be careful in judging other persons’ Christianity based on whether or not they have an indoor or outdoor manger scene.
In close, could this whole discussion come under the application points made in Romans 14? Take time to read Romans 14 and if you want to let me know what you think about this issue, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.