Dear CCW family,
Let me remind you of an experience I had before COVID-19, when you could sit very closely together . . .
Christmas Tradition: Singing Carols to the One They Don’t Love
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.” Jn 15:18
“And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds . . .” Col 1:21-22
“For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” Jn 3:20
O Come, Let US Adore Him.
There we are, sitting in the large public music hall listening to Handel’s “Messiah.” We’re feeling a bit claustrophobic before we start, our coats draped over our shoulders or our chairs, and our bulky sweaters surrounding us like a woolen nest. We’re heating up gradually as they sing, “For unto us a child is born; unto us a Son is given.” But we warm fully to the inspiring music as they sing, “And the government shall be upon His sho-ho-ho-ho-ho-houlders.”
On our crowded row are many who don’t believe in Christ yet are just as much enraptured by the music as we are. It’s the best of Christmas traditions regardless of the layers of fabric suffocating us — a fine community event with superb music from the finest of our local musicians. It is expected each Christmas season and all of us, unbelievers included, would be disappointed if it were not happening.
These same unbelievers will likely turn up at a local church this Christmas also, which is every bit as much a seasonal event as going to “The Messiah.” Maybe they will go on a Sunday morning, or to a candlelight service in the church “mom and dad used to attend.”
But these unbelievers do not love Christ. Rather, they are attracted to the opposite — to avoiding Christ all year long. In fact, the Bible teaches that they despise Him and run from Him. And this is the irony of Christmas. The long-anticipated season brings out all kinds of hypocrisy in our neighbors and friends — or in ourselves.
They don’t love what He taught.
They don’t love what He demands.
They don’t love what He causes to happen when people follow Him.
They don’t love the atmosphere of holy people who actually know and follow him.
They don’t love to identify with Him in public unless socially expedient.
They don’t even believe what they sing or hear sung about him at Christmastime. Not really.
In other words, they think that a little bit of Jesus goes a long way, and Christmas and/or Easter is certainly enough to pay respects to the concept. Anything else is, well, less than patriotic. Christmas, if everyone were honest about it all, is a little discomfiting precisely because of Jesus. It might be a lot better without Him involved. But in that this is impossible, they will do their part to keep traditions alive.
But all of this, conveniently, goes unsaid.
“If one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached . . . you bear this beautifully (2 Cor 11:4)” Another Jesus? In fact, “yes.” Some people can handle a little bit of Jesus with a certain amount of diffidence. But others must alter their Jesus to another of their own making.
“Another Jesus” might be a Jesus who remains in a manger, or a Jesus who indulges everyone in the world regardless of his or her rejection of Him, or One who does not proceed from the Father and is merely human. There are lots of Christs out there to choose from. Such people try to re-invent Jesus from the One who said hard things and who demanded more than they want to give. They don’t want the One who actually was raised from the dead and ascended to the Father and will one day judge the world, and who offers a way of salvation that is too narrowly focused on His way alone. Instead they think up a Jesus who is more compatible with the lusts and sophistry of their own hearts.
Remade in our own image, Jesus can be attractive, even to unbelievers. And it is this Jesus of the imagination that so many can and do celebrate over Christmastime.
New Book Ready for Pre-order
Our new booklet, “My Preferred Way to Read the Bible” is still available for pre-order. For a limited time, we are offering the special price of $1.30 plus shipping for any number of copies.
Even in these difficult days, we have Jesus. He came to “save his people from their sins.” Our sins!
Have a wonderful Christmas Season.
Jim and Pam Elliff (with Steve Burchett and Kole Farney)