The Prince of Peace and a world at war

As the world settles in to celebrate Christmas the Prime Winter Holiday, a telling public brouhaha has occurred:

You see, Robertson didn’t simply attack and disparage the sexual preferences of a minority, as Alec Baldwin recently did in a hateful rant. No, Robertson’s opinion—couched as it was in scriptural references that suggest he not only owns a Bible, but also reads it—reflects the teaching and practice of historic Christianity and, by extension, the opinion of a sizable portion of the American public. Indeed, according to a June 2013 Pew Research Center survey, roughly half (45 percent) of Americans polled said they believe homosexual actions are a “sin.” In an apparent effort to convince this demographic that homosexual actions are not sinful, GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz said Robertson’s views are not Christian. The strategy here seems to be “divide and conquer”—separate Robertson from his religion and let public opinion do the rest. The theologians at GLAAD will have to do better, because what Robertson said is not inconsistent with a Christianity that sees the Bible as a source of Divine authority and inspiration—and Louisiana gun-toting evangelicals are not the only ones who embrace that Christianity. On the contrary, Cruz’s statement appears naive when one considers that Pope Francis, Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2013, has previously called gay marriage the work of the devil and “a total rejection of God’s law engraved on our hearts.” Judging by Thursday’s precedent, A&E would fire the pope.

Just as the recent post about the “atheist church” shows, people are more than willing to accept the comforting trappings of Christian culture… as long as Christ isn’t a central part of the prescribed recipe. Part of the appeal of the “Duck Dynasty” show for many has been the unabashed faith of the family. A&E has been happy to bank on that appeal… until the more challenging aspects of the Biblical worldview come into view. Many a critic of Phil Robertson will raise a “cup o’ Christmas cheer” over the next couple of days. One wonders what the point is.

For too long, the West has seen Christmas as a time to celebrate peace… but has forgotten the nature of that peace. “Peace on earth, goodwill towards men,” the angels proclaimed. Goodwill from Whom? From the Creator — who, that first Christmas, was sending His only Son to live among us. But never forget amid the serene scenes of shepherds and mangers and a little baby that the Child was an invader — a divine messenger who would have a brief time to proclaim once again all that God had been trying to tell us since the Fall. At the end of that time, the Child everyone oohs and ahhs over this time of year would meet the most horrible death imaginable: stripped, whipped, battered, bleeding, nailed to a cross He didn’t deserve.  All because the world hated Him.

It still does.

That is why no Christian should be surprised when quoting Scripture causes stones to be hurled. The world fought the Master, so it will certainly fight His followers. Truth is no more welcome coming from us than it was from Him, even when we remember to speak that Truth in love.   We persist and endure becuase there are those individual hearts, softened by the Spirit, who receive that Word and are transformed. 

And what is that Word? That the only true equality of Man is that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And yet, “God so loved the world so much He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” The Christmas story is one of a divinely orchestrated jailbreak, where God arranged for us to be freed from prisons of sin and eternal separation from Him. *That* is the root of the feelings of comfort and glad tidings this time of year.  Any human action inspired by it is but a mere echo. Let us not forget, though, that the jailbreak is still in progress, and it’s our job to involve as many prisoners as possible through the help of the Spirit. We’re not home, yet. That is why one of my favorite Christmas songs is “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”

‘Rejoice, Rejoice, Emmanuel will come for thee, O Israel.’

A blessed Christmas to all who read this!  — Jemison

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