The Agony (political correctness gone wild) and

the Ecstasy (the indescribable gift of Christ)

By Dr. Ron Woodworth

The Agony…

According to the Barna Research Group, only 37% of Americans who identify themselves as Christians (88% of the respondents) say that the most important part of Christmas is the birth of Jesus.1.  Forty-Four percent (44%) of the 1006 survey participants gave “family time” the highest importance. Interestingly, over 75% of those who claimed to be evangelicals ranked the birth of Christ as foremost in importance. However, among those who identified themselves as Christian fundamentalists only 32% agreed–followed by a mere 29% of Roman Catholics who affirmed Christ’s birth as most significant at Christmas time.

As shocking as these statistics might be, it is equally incredible to hear the liberal media hype over political correctness at this time of the year. Apparently, the “separation of church and state,” as interpreted by the secularists and atheists, and championed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), have persuaded many retail stores and municipalities (by threat of litigation), to disassociate with any symbol of Christian heritage. In the public sector, such secular pressure is being applied to change the familiar seasonal greeting of Merry Christmas with the more generic and “non-offensive” Happy Holidays. Unfortunately, the only ones to whom we ought to be sensitive to are those minority voices who would deny or desecrate our Christian heritage. What about the majority of us!

It seems to me that Americans who are Christians ought to use their political clout to stop this fear-induced mad rush to secularism in the name of political correctness. Pardon me if, as a voting American with Christian convictions, I choose candidates and initiatives that help to preserve the righteousness heritage of our forefathers. All I have to say is, let’s get some legislators who have convictions informed by God’s Word (the Bible—the #1 best seller of all time2) and will vote with wisdom and courage, in the face of baseless historical manipulation.

I’m not saying that we should try to set up an American Christian theocracy (as do the Islamic fanatics with their Sharia law), but neither am I content to abandon a noble democratic fight for the Judeo-Christian ideals and heritage that made our country great. We are not trying to “establish a religion” we are simply “honoring a tradition”—which in the United States of America would be decidedly Judeo-Christian. Separation of church and state, when correctly interpreted is an important political principle, but separation of God and state is no where mandated by our Constitution—and should never be the objective of a free people. A people who are free to inform their conscience and vote from any moral document they choose—including and especially, the Bible. Please read Psalm 2, part of which is adapted below, for God’s perspective on contrary national policy…

“Why do the nations and the kings of the earth plot against the Lord and his Anointed One? In vain do they try to cast off God’s divine authority. But the Lord is not threatened by them. And seated on his heavenly throne he laughs and chides them for their ignorance and rebellion, saying, “Regardless of your vote, I have already installed my eternal King on Zion, my holy mountain…Therefore, you earthly temporal kings, be warned and wisely respond with humility before the God of all creation who has exalted his Son as Lord of all and judge of the nations.” (Psalm 2, Adapted)

The Ecstasy…

If the agony about Christmas is the secular attack on America’s Christian heritage then the ecstasy is the eternal truth about the significance of the birth of Christ Jesus.

Here are two verses we all should know by heart:

  • For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
  • Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.”  (2 Cor. 9:15)

Here are four intriguing biblical characteristics about God’s indescribable gift:

  1. It can’t be earned because it’s free. (Ephesians 2:8-9).
    1. By definition a gift is a special favor done by another without regard to compensation gained. In this case God, because of his great love, has given (or provided for) us his Son as a gift of grace. This gift contains God’s forgiveness and righteousness (right relationship with God) for all who believe.
  2. It can’t be seen because it’s spiritual (Matthew 16:16-17 & 1 Cor. 2:6-16).
    1. When responding to Jesus’ question about his identity, Peter replied, “You are the Christ (the Messiah) the Son of the Living God”—to which Jesus remarked, “Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 16:16-17) As difficult as it is to understand, every child of God has been personally called by God to faith in Christ. That call came as a revelation of God—usually bringing his provision in time of need.
  3. It can’t be stolen because it’s a part of you (Col. 1:27).
    1. As a believer, Christ is now in you and you in him. Therefore no one can take him away from you or you from him. Jesus is not merely some abstract theological concept that we believe in, he has actually become part of our very being—the nature of who we are from now on. Therefore, regardless what people try to steel from us they can never take away the Lord. In fact, not even if they take our lives can they separate us from love of God which is in Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 8:38-39). Think of that, you will never be alone again. Christ is always with you, even until the end—and beyond.
  4. It can’t be destroyed because it’s imperishable (1 Pet. 1:3-5).
    1. To be imperishable implies that it is not subject to decay. This is a gift that will never wear out. It is indeed a gift that keeps on giving. Like the miraculous never-ending flow of the widow’s jar of oil, so too is the gift of eternal life in Christ. Being eternal, his life is not subject to time, nor the constraints of this material world. In other words, it transcends everything. Think of that, in Christ, you and I posses a gift that will outlive this world. Even when natural death calls us home, the gift of our relationship with God by the grace of Christ will be our passport to the next world—where time will be no more. Thank God for his indescribable gift!

In response to God’s gracious gift allow me to encourage each of us to do three things:

  1. Make sure we have received the gift (John 1:12)
  2. Unwrap and use the gift (1 Pet. 4:10)
  3. Share the gift with others (1 Pet. 3:15)

IMMANUEL ABOVE

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son,

 and they will call him Immanuel–which means,

 ‘God with us.’”

(Matthew 2:23)

Oh God, my God, why did you send your Son?

A priceless pearl, your most beloved–the precious spotless one.

You could have heralded your majesty above the earth in power,

But you sent your gift and picked the time—the month, the day, the hour.

And in a fragile box of clay, contained your gift of love,

Oh God, I cried, we didn’t see, Immanuel Above.

But why, oh why did you so conceal?

Was it to fool our hearts?

Then “No!” the Spirit answered me, “And can you now contain?”

“It had to be this meager way to vindicate my name.”

“Yes, I could have opened heaven–for all the world to see,

To crush the proud and insolent and enforce my majesty.”

“But listen now and I shall tell of a marvelous mystery,

For in this way my subjects come and bow their knee to me.”

“It is through love their hearts are won, and much the more besides,

When they through hunger and thirst do find, my love concealed inside.”

“Inside a peasant carpenter, yes, that is where I chose,

That those who find might bow their hearts and cup the little rose.”

“For in this my wisdom shows itself and the nature of my heart,

‘T’was Father that I called myself and love will I impart.”

“And in the humble recreate, a new man you shall see,

The power of the purest love can set the captive free!”

“And frustrate all the plans of hell, the pride of man, an empty shell,

For in this I do all things well, be faithful son, to me.”

Dear God, I bow my face to sod, my ‘self’ I lay aside,

And take the cross that won my soul, with it will I abide.

And will proclaim while in my flesh the wonders of your love,

That others may embrace the rose—Immanuel Above.

Merry ChristmasJ

Ron


[1] Barna study conducted for the Lutheran Hour Ministries. Printed in Christianity Today, December 9, 1996

[2] The Bible has been the best selling book in the world ever since the invention of the printing press in 1456. Even Harry Potter sold less than ½ of the copies sold of the Bible last year—which was 500 million!