Skip to comments.The Problem with Christmas
Posted on 12/24/2013 11:54:53 AM PST by impactplayer
The problem is that the Christmas story starts at the beginning of the end of an epic drama. Its like picking up a 700 page novel and starting on page 650. You see the ending, but there is no context no character development no drama no power. And as a story it just does not work. This was demonstrated in glaring fashion a couple of hundred years ago when the Gospel was introduced into Korea and Japan. The entire Bible was available in Korean, but only the New Testament in Japanese Korea became Christian, while the Japanese grew to only 3% Christian. You see, the story just does not work when you start at the end.
As with any mythical-type epic drama, the story really begins not on earth, but in Heaven. God is Love, and He loves His creatures (angels). And the most beloved and beautiful of His creations was Lucifer. At some point (and this is where I fill in some blanks of the story just a bit) Lucifer gets just a little full of himself and how special he is, and leads a rebellion among the angels. They are defeated and cast out of Heaven, which causes a couple of new issues (God does not have problems). The God of Love has lost His close friend, and there is no place outside of Heaven so where does Lucifer go? God begats from Himself a divine partner (Son), truly worthy of His Love, and bestows upon Him the privilege of the creation of worlds and time. (Im now through filling in some blanks now back to the real story).
Jesus (the Son of God) speaks the word and all of time and space are created and Lucifer (Satan) and his rebellion now have a place to go. Satan is now locked in time outside of eternity.
Jesus, however, does not just create time and space He creates a proliferation of life. And chief among them is Man. But man must now co-exist with Satan. Jesus provides all mans needs, along with a couple of warnings. He tells this first man, Adam, to stay away from the tree of Knowledge (of good and evil), and of the tree of Life (eternity). But Satan is wily, and convinces Man that he can become like God (which is what Satan always wanted for himself) if he would just eat from the tree of Knowledge. So man defies God and falls from His Grace. Now God must protect man from the tree of Life or he will be eternally locked in a fallen state. So man is driven from Gods garden and into the world.
Man proves himself helpless against Satan and the created order becomes one of total disorder. Jesus is ready to destroy all of it and start over, but one man (Noah) is found to be righteous and to walk with God. So he and his family along with each type of the created animal is instructed to get into a large ship where they are all saved from a massive flood, destroying all the men infected by evil. But it pains Him to see His creatures destroyed, so He makes a promise to man sealed with a rainbow never to do that again.
Evil returns to the heart of man but once again God finds one man (Abram). And He calls him to move with his family to a new land and makes a promise that He will be their God and they will be his people, and they shall prosper and fill the land and show the nations who God is and how to live in His grace. Abram is given a new name Abraham to go with this promise. In his old age Abraham has a son by his wife Sarah. God then asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son and heir to Gods promise. Abraham makes all of the preparations, then God spares the Abrahams son and the promise is fulfilled.
Gods protection of His people included using other pagan nations to help out. God saw a great famine coming and used Abrahams great grandson Joseph to protect His future nation. Joseph, the youngest and favorite son, was beaten and sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. Joseph ended up in prison in Egypt, were he gained favor through the interpretation of dreams. God revealed to him the coming famine, and Joseph convinced the King of Egypt to spend the next seven years storing grain. Joseph was put in charge of the entire operation, and eventually moved his family Gods people to share in this abundance amidst regional tragedy. The people grew in size and influence until a future pharaoh afraid of their growing numbers turned them into slaves and called for the death of all new-borne males.
God saved one Moses and caused him to be raised and trained as Pharaohs own son. Moses was called by God away from this life of luxury to lead His people out of bondage. God caused great pain upon Pharaoh and the nation of Egypt until they finally let Gods people go. He opened the sea for their escape, and they were told to enter the promised land the land God had promised to Abraham. But they still felt like slaves and would not go. God spent the next forty years training them into a nation. He spoke to Moses, giving them the rules to live by (including the Ten Commandments) and taught them how to worship. In this they learned that they were unworthy (sinners) and that only death (sacrifice) could provide the holiness required to approach the living God. Once this generation had been replaced with a generation raised upon Gods principles they were given victory over the promised land a land flowing with milk and honey. God now had His nation among the nations of the world, and they were to be a light to the world an example for others to follow.
This nation, however, was weak and disorganized. So fourteen generations after Abraham, God selected a new leader once again the youngest son to mold His people into a great nation among the nations. And so David a man after Gods own heart (though clearly short of glory in his own right) became a great ruler and united the people into a great nation. And Davids son, Solomon, was commission by God to build a temple for the worship of this holy nation.
But it was not yet to be. This holy nation took their rights as Gods people for granted and performed their worship as a ritual. Thus, in time, they were conquered, their temple destroyed and the people of God led away into captivity this time into Babylon.
This is now the second time Gods people have been enslaved. Nothing appears to be working out right. Israel is not a light to the nations, they never could keep their end of the grand bargain with God, and each time even after God delivers them their worship soon turns into little more than a cultic ritual. The only thing that has really been established is that Gods terms are just, and man cannot live up to them. The pattern has been repeating for generations and generations: God establishes a good foundation (creation), man rebels (sins), man reaps the result of his disobedience (judgment), and God saves and restores His people to a right relationship with Him (re-creation) only to have it all start all over again. Something MUST be done to break this never-ending cycle.
Gods solution (remember, God never has a problem) is mind boggling. He will enter the world of man as a man show man how to live then save him from Satans grip so man could live free of his grasp forever. It would be Heaven on Earth! It is a grand plan a plan that has been in place from the beginning. God has been saving his man creature all along. He has longed to resume His intimate relationship with His finest creation which was spoiled by Adams disobedience. It is now time to set the final stage for this world-changing event.
So, once again, God restores His nation to their land and rebuilds His temple (this time using a pagan king to make it happen), then for seven hundred years begins foretelling His grand entrance into His world.
And so it is Gods people are restored to their land and the temple rebuilt, but nothing is the same. The people are subjected to harsh Roman rule, their priests badly compromised through deals with Rome, and their temple turned into a den of thieves. The people have nowhere to turn. Neither the government nor their priests not even the temple of God can help. They are in desperate need of a Savior. John the Baptist sees this and the people flock to him, hoping he is the one. He is not, but he gets them ready and prepares the way.
NOW we can start the Christmas story!
It takes nearly 1,500 pages to tell the story right, with all of its full character development and powerful drama. But if you start with Christmas without any of this preparation well then the story just doesnt make much sense. We can see the how of the story, but not the why. We understand the what of the story, but not the Who. It really has a nice ending, but SO WHAT!
And that is the problem with Christmas. It cannot be explained in a sermon, or a parable, or a simile. Power like this requires preparation, background, and study to even begin to grasp it. And in the end, even this is not enough. In the end in the final moments of grasping at the wind it is only Jesus who can fill it with meaning. It only makes sense through His eyes and we can only see it through Him. It is a paradox it cannot be understood until we know Him cannot be held until He holds us is beyond our senses until He makes sense.
Yes, Christmas is a problem. May it fill you with awe and wonder for the rest of your life!
I would also add that The Book of Revelation does not make sense without the Old Testament either the Bible is an integrated message of 66 books, and all are part of the deal.
Most of the gospels were written for a Jewish Christian audience who had the Old Testament memorized anyway. So they knew all this background stuff. [”NEW AMERICAN BIBLE”, MATTHEW, P.10 “The church of Matthew, originally strongly Jewish Christian...”; NOT LUKE, ibid, p.96.;]
I’m good with that. How about we call it “The Christmas Chapter”.
Of course, this story, or chapter, and everything leading up to it, are still nearly meaningless without the Resurrection.
I’ve just read a 771 page novel (a current bestseller I won’t name out of shame), and believe me, if you started on page 650, you’d have thought it was a great thing!
Without a doubt. In it the Church is the Bride of Christ and we are restored to a relationship with God which goes all the way back to Adam before the first sin.
I can relate to the story in general because i believed in God for years before i ever heard of Jesus and not from reading or hearing, although i must have heard something, but i just believed in God.
If not for that i may have not ever came to know Christ.
But i think the story is based on many assumptions.
For instance i believe Lucifer is only mentioned once and that is
How hast thou fallen from the heavens, O shining one, son of the dawn! Thou hast been cut down to earth, O weakener of nations.
The above passage is directed to the king of Babylon, this king of Babylon was going to be equal to God but in reality he never got off the ground, he was being chided for all of his pomp.
Amen bros and the cool thing, at least to me, is to see how this book was written by someone outside of time itself .and the way it fits together proves this. Also, it’s cool to see quantam physics, astronomy and micro biology slowly catching up to this great old book ..
I know - I expected some blow-back on that part. That’s why I said I was “filling is some blanks” in the story. One day we will find out the rest of the story.
Very good, my dear. You can never, never understand how Good the Good News is, until you understand how Bad the Bad News is. And how great the rescue, and at what dost.
One day we will find out the rest of the story.
No power or drama!
What compelled a couple to travel to a town to find no lodging at the inn and to be housed in a manger. A virgin with child and a Star to rise in the East to make 3 Wise Men to seek the the child born with gifts. And what made the shepherds leave their flocks to visit the new born babe!
A more accurate title would be
The My Problem with Christmas.
Your claim that the reason that Korea turned 30% Christian and Japan did not is absurd.
Maybe the 100 thousand Christians killed by the shogun had something to do with it? Maybe it was because when westerners presented Christianity to Japan, they clothed it with European biases?
FYI: Koreans who became Christian in China are the reason that so many Koreans converted. Of course, most of the early converts were Catholic, as are half of Korea’s christians today, so I guess you don’t notice...
And since up to the time of Mr. Gutenburg’s press, few people read the bible... evangelization was by word of mouth and example, not by reading.