Historical Facts, Doctrinal Truths or Inspiring Quotes?
Scripture as an Invitation into God’s New World
Let’s face it, friends: 2020 has been nothing short of a proverbial train-wreck.
During the last several months our world has endured the COVID-19 pandemic, massive economic upheaval, social unrest, and ongoing political division. The question on the minds of many is what sort of “world” awaits us in 2021? As followers of Jesus, however, we are instructed not to give into fear (2 Tim. 1:6) but instead to fix our eyes on Him as our certain hope (Heb. 12:1-2). But how do we do this? How can we have hope when it seems that the world around us is falling apart?
My (short) answer? Celebrate Christmas. No, I am not talking about stockings, presents, lighted trees, and family gatherings. I am talking about celebrating the new world that Christmas represents, the one in which the biblical story invites us to participate. You see, the bible is not meant to be read as an account of interesting historical facts; nor is it a series of doctrinal propositions to believe or inspirational quotes for when you’re feeling blue. Too often, though, this is exactly how Christians treat God’s word. And in doing so, they miss out on what God actually intended the scriptures for: to completely transform and reshape our lives in accordance with the new reality (world) which Jesus Christ has brought into existence through His life, death and resurrection.
The Christmas story – that is, the account of the birth of Jesus – is not just a historical record of “what happened” in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. No, the birth of Jesus is a revolutionary narrative signaling the end of a world dominated by the hostilities of sin, death, and Satan and a beginning of new one under the lordship of Christ Himself. Though these “worlds” have been in conflict with each other ever since Christ’s birth, we are assured that His dominion over the earth will continue to increase throughout the ages, and finally when He appears again, the “kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of the Lord and of His Christ” (Rev. 11:15).
Until then, we as followers of Jesus are called to continuously align ourselves – by faith – with the truth of the eternal realities which the scriptural story orients us towards. We must train our hearts and minds to remember that Christmas isn’t merely a sentimental holiday to observe once a year, but an event which has not only reshaped history itself but every fabric of our lives. What might this look like in practice?
Over the course of the next few blogs, I will answer this question by going back to the story of Christmas itself as told by the gospel writer Luke. While Luke accurately and faithfully records the life and teachings of Jesus under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I suggest his purpose in doing so is to re describe the world for his readership by giving them fresh spiritual eyes and a new vision for living life under the gracious lordship of Jesus Christ. Specifically, the Christmas story introduces us to a God who keeps promises, brings peace, and offers salvation to all people.
So, I invite you, dear reader, to join me in this journey of learning afresh how to celebrate the Christmas story – again, not with stockings, presents, lighted trees, and family gatherings – but by joyfully participating in the “new world” of Christ’s dominion.
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