Monday, December 22, 2008

A Tightrope Christmas!

Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. --- 2 John 1:9-11

Here we go again – do we dare mention the word, Christmas, or back off and simply refer to the days of December as a holiday season and wish people a cheery “Happy Holidays?” It seems to be an adventure similar to walking a tightrope!

Reaction to the Christmas controversy is varied again this year – from allowing atheists to post a sign near a nativity display in one part of the country to the aggressive distribution of badges and bumper stickers boldly stating “Merry Christmas.”

Mike Huckabee on his Fox News program perhaps best expressed thoughts about Christmas to which those professing to be “evangelical” would say a hearty “Amen!” I just happened to accidentally catch those remarks while surfing a bit during the ad blitz on a channel showing a Christmas movie which I was attempting to watch. I very rarely view Fox News – you know, the channel that highly qualifies as a competitive beauty pageant for females, jam packed with oodles of ads, has flashy and splashy graphics and throws in a few tidbits of news with a ticker tape moving across the bottom when the ads aren’t running!

Anyway, Mike got into explaining about Christmas and the Biblical account behind it. He mentioned that God came and took on human form. He then became almost apologetic and stated that he did not want to offend those of other faiths such as Muslims, Hindus etc. but that his intent was to explain what Christmas means to those who follow the Christian faith. His explanation will probably be accepted by many with no offense.

However, the real hostility against Christmas lies not so much in a few people believing that God became human at some point in the flow of human history – it is due to a fewer number who believe and proclaim without apology that Jesus Christ is absolutely the only way of forgiveness, experiencing peace with Almighty God, and eventual entrance into God’s eternal Kingdom after death ends our existence on earth! You see, by doing this, one is stating that all other religious expressions outside of Christianity are false and without a reliable foundation! This does not sit well with most who are devotees of something other than genuine Christianity. The consequence is resentment, hostile responses and in some places, violent acts of persecution. Unfortunately there are within the ranks of professing Christianity those, including church leaders, who have backed off from being in agreement with Jesus on this issue, and have indicated one way or another that other religions in the world have legitimate claims to speak on issues related to deity, life's purpose and eternal destiny. In taking such a compromising position it has also been necessary to shift in one's view of the Scriptures with the conclusion that they are simply human produced writings with errors here and there! You can go for many miles once you start down that trail, but it will cause the vehement objections from religionists outside of Christianity to settle down a bit!

It is not a theory or some far fetched idea that bring these few to such a conclusion of what some describe as being very intolerant and narrow minded. It is based on the personal and very radical exclusive statements made by Jesus Himself – each of those statements begins with “I am…”

Further, these statements rest on the solid facts of His sacrificial death on behalf of every human being, His subsequent resurrection from the dead 3 days after crucifixion and His ascension back to Heaven after a 40 day period spent with a number of His followers. He has also specifically promised to return to this planet again and we are informed that He will rule it with a "rod of iron!"

He gave a parting command to go into all the world, issue a call to repent from sin, accept Him as Savior and Lord, and exhort all to obey His teachings – there were to be no exceptions to this – never once did He say, “Do this except for those who are of the ________ faith.” (insert any one of the vast number of religious expressions of your preference in today’s world in the blank space.).

But He also stressed one other thing which we often overlook. And that was in regard to Christians who are faithful to carry out that parting command to confront the world about His call and claims upon all members of the human race – the radical nature of that message and witness will cause them to be hated among all nations! The reason? Simple – Jesus’ followers represent light and truth which is often rejected as stated by Jesus in John 3:19-21:

"And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."

In my years of hunting there were times as I walked through the woods that I would come across a piece of a dead log – I would kick the log over to see what would happen. Underneath were all kinds of creepy crawly things – as soon as they were exposed to the light they scurried quickly to find a hole into which they might crawl – they didn’t want to remain where there was light -- it made them too uncomfortable! A majority of human beings are much the same – the light and truth that comes through Jesus Christ Whose birth we celebrate at this time of year is more than they can stand – the reaction is hatred and hostility as they scramble to get back into the darkness and away from the light which exposes them for what they really are!

Actually, it ought not to be considered walking a tightrope at Christmas or at any other time in regard to our faith in Jesus Christ – just continue to bear witness to the fact that He is still the only way of salvation and hope in spite of the majority responding in a negative fashion – always bear in mind the inspired words of the apostle Paul – they give a powerful encouragement and challenge to keep on going because somewhere in the future when that statement is totally fulfilled we will wholeheartedly agree that it has been worth it all to have fulfilled the calling of Jesus Christ upon our lives each day of our journey on earth!

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. --- Philippians 2:9-10

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