Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Letter

Christmas isn't cutsey. 
It's an act of war. 
Carols may be sentimental, but at their heart they're a battle cry.
He's here.
Our deliverer has come.

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)

I don't know how many times I've read this verse and never thought about it.  I've seen pieces of this verse written on cards in scripty fonts, and I've paid more attention to how shiny the paper was than how powerful the words were.  What's it all mean?  I know I'm just scratching the surface, but I've got to try to understand something here!

Jesus came for us.  "To us" Jesus was born, "to us" He was given!  We needed Him.  Government on His shoulders -- we needed Him to stabilize us (politics, law, economics), Wonderful Counselor -- we needed Him to counsel us (ethics, philosophy), Mighty God -- we needed Him to define our views of reality (theology, history), Everlasting Father -- we needed Him to define love and show us what family is (biology, sociology, psychology), Prince of Peace -- we needed Him to bring peace to our madness (all of the above!).

I've heard so many times that a Christian should his religious beliefs separate from his political ones.  If God did that, then I would, too.  But as it is, even Jesus' birth announcement touches on all the aspects of a worldview!  In all areas of life, we were fouled up.  Jesus came to deliver us, to shine His piercing light into our clouded, confused, and rebellious minds.

This year has been a rough one for everyone I know.  Friends have had their dads walk out on them, their sisters walk out on them, or their husbands walk out on them. They've been diagnosed with cancer.  They've lost cousins and nephews, they've lost jobs, they've lost assurance, they've lost security.

But you know what?  Jesus is here.

It's easy to think how much better it would be if we had just lived on earth when Jesus did.  But I guarantee you that on the day when Jesus was born, dads had walked out out, sisters had walked out, husbands had walked out...  This world was broken then and it's broken now.  Our sin breaks stuff, and breaks it clumsily, meanly, slyly, desperately, or calculatingly.  But that's not the point.  The point is, Jesus is here.

He's come to deliver us from ourselves, from our sin, from death, and from the evil one. 

He's come to bring us peace, but there's a struggle that comes first.  That struggle is the civil war we fight inside ourselves every day, and the struggle against the unjust claims that Satan tries to lay on us.

What's so crazy to me is that just as we have the struggle over nativity scenes in public areas today, so Satan fought the original nativity scene -- witness Herod and the slaughter of the innocents.  But Jesus' birth was just the beginning: if Satan had known the full story of what Jesus would be doing on earth, boy, I don't know how he could have contained himself!  And today, as Satan continues to fight against nativity scenes and any positive, public mention of Christ, it's so clear that Satan is already defeated.  He's being petty.  He knows he can't take Jesus on head-on, so he's trying to gain token victories that will get the most mileage in order to deceive people into thinking he has a chance to win.  Satan's trying to fight against the One he knows has already defeated him.  Satan's best chance came when Jesus was a defenseless newborn lying in straw while a cow chewed the cud behind Him.  But he couldn't even defeat Him then!  Today, Christ has overcome death and Satan.  Soon, He's going to be coming back as King.

It's clear that Christ has overcome Satan, and soon Satan will be thrown into the pit.  Praise God!  But Satan is viciously struggling in his death throes because he wants to pull as many people down with him that he can.  He's spiteful, vengeful, and even if he realizes he has no chance of defeating Jesus directly, he knows he can still wound his heart by trying to pull away people that Jesus loves -- everyone.

But Jesus is here.  He's going to win.  As we celebrate His birth, let's look forward to His final victory.  Whatever it is that you're struggling with today, Jesus is stronger.  Whatever it is that's keeping you up nights, Jesus is stronger.  Our present sufferings can't even compare with the future glory that's to come.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Jesus was born.
It was an act of war.
His call is a battle cry.
Immanuel, Jesus is here.
Our deliverer has come.

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