Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas: Fighting Death and All His Friends

I'm struggling with Christmas this year, for various reasons.

I've always hated commercialism. Sentimentality is bothersome too, perhaps this year more than before. But most of all, I'm sick of the sugar-coating that goes on inside the church. 

We're leaving out the power of the Gospel for a happy, warm-fuzzy feeling that makes a good singing and drama program. 

Let us not forget that His birth was promised with the arrival of sin - that with the promise of hope, came the promise of battle and pain. 

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel. Genesis 3:15

The Christmas story is not a story of happy, carefree people and cute soft fluffy sheep. Jesus was born in a stable - a place slimed with dirt and sweat and blood and tears and manure. The Nativity is a story of fear and hope, betrayal and love, enmity and adoration, terror and peace, death and life. 

It is a story of war. 

The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. ...And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. ...Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. Revelation 12: 4, 7, 17

We get these happy sentimental ideas about Christmas, but Scripture has no such ambiguity. 

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work. I John 3:8

Or, as my Bible teacher Jeremy Gregory equated, "to destroy 'death and all his friends,'" - disease, famine, abuse, slavery, neglect, injustice. The wrong created by the Fall is ours to redeem through the victory that Jesus has won.

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. I Corinthians 15:56-58

And what last words does Paul impart to the church at Rome?

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. Romans 16: 20

So maybe Christmas can leave us feeling empty and unfulfilled because we don't understand the role we're called to play in the story. We're called to fight death and all his friends, because that is why Christ appeared. That is why He became God-in-flesh. As God has redeemed us, we are called to redeem - not that we have any power in of ourselves, but that we know Christ. It is Christ whose heel was stricken by the serpent, and it is Christ who was to crush his head. Yet we have the victory of Christ when we are in Him. 

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. Galatians 4:4-7

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