Wednesday, December 21, 2016

What Is Christmas About

Christmas has become a time of warm feelings, good cheer, and family togetherness. I am not in general opposed to such things. But I think people sometimes, even we Christians, can fall into the idea that this is what Christianity is all about. We can bemoan the over- commercialization and the pandering to greed, but the thing we put in its place may miss the point of what Christ is all about. We can reduce the point of the season to a vague feeling that we are basically good people in a basically good world, and if we would just be nice to one another, everything would be all right. This is not Christianity. Scripture, rather, paints a picture of sinful people (Romans 3:23; Isaiah 64:6; Jeremiah 17:9) in a fallen world (1 John 2:15-17; Romans 8:19-23; Genesis 3:16-19). Christianity is not some Pollyanna faith that claims we live in the best of all possible worlds. Rather, we hold that the present world is one filled with evil, pain, and suffering. But we claim God has done something about it.  

The point of Christmas, from a Christian viewpoint, is that God became a Man to deliver us from sin and death (John 1:1-18; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 2:9-18). We do not have a God who sits up in heaven and tells us everything is all right and if we just look at the positive, things will be fine. I suspect that in many cases this is the God that individuals are being irreligious toward. Rather, He is a God who came down and walked among us and endured the pains and sufferings of humanity that He might provide for us eternal salvation. Not only did God become Man in the person of Jesus Christ, but He paid the price we should have paid for our sins (1 Peter 2:24,25; Colossians 2:13-15; 2 Corinthians 5:21). He therefore can offer eternal life to all who put their faith in Him (Romans 4:4,5; Ephesians 2:8,9; Philippians 3:9). This eternal life results in the elimination of sin, suffering, and death at Christ’s return (Revelation 21:4; Philippians 3:20,21; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57). Therefore, even in the midst of a hurting and broken world, we have hope because of what Christ has done (Romans 8:24,25; Galatians 5:5; Titus 2:13). Therefore, we can face the trials of life with open eyes, not trying to sugar-coat them. But we can know that God, who came to share our trials, understands and will bring us through them (John 16:33; Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17,18). Now I do not want to discourage celebrating on Christmas. God has given us good things to enjoy (1 Timothy 4:4; Titus 1:15; Acts 14:15-17). But we need to avoid fixing our eyes merely on the passing joys of the season and forgetting the greater celebration of the victory which Christ has won for us. Then we can put in perspective both the joys and the sorrows of the present age.

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