A Hard Reminder of Why We Need Christmas

I woke up pretty excited Friday morning.  I was meeting a friend early to give him a Bible and some devotional material.  He is a man important to and loved by our family and one we have prayed for.  He prayed to receive Christ at “The Christmas Star.  So that alone was making it a good day, but it would get better.  After leaving him, I was going to drive to Tech to pick up my daughter, Aimee.  She was done with her semester and did not want to wait till her big sister, who has the car, was going to be done with hers.  She called and asked if I would come get her.  I jumped at the opportunity.  I not only looked forward to her being home, I looked forward to just spending the afternoon with her in the car.  I started the drive by making some calls, and then I began to work on my sermon that I would be preaching Sunday, one I did not know I would not preach.  So I didn’t have the radio on.  I think it was a little before 1:00 when Karen called and wanted to know if I had been listening.  Of course I didn’t know what she was talking about.  I turned on the radio and joined the rest of the country in a day of unbelievable horror and shock as we learned of Newtown and Sandy Hook Elementary.

It is scary, isn’t it, what’s happening to us?  We want to understand why Adam Lanza, an individual would do this, but it seemed to me there was a bigger question underneath.  Why are we doing this?  Why is our nation doing this?  Why are we becoming this kind of people?  We all know that in the ensuing weeks the debates and politics and preaching will flow as to why we are and how to stop it: we kicked God out of the schools, we need gun control, we need mental health care, we need better security, we need, we need, we need.  We will hear little about and do even less about a culture of dehumanization, a culture in which there is almost no sanctity for human life from teaching evolution to abortion to pornography to gaming to reality TV; and I would debate anyone on the planet as to the tie of anyone of those things and how a Friday happens.  Now, a word of caution for all of us, myself included, who are ready to jump on and rail against the White House, Capital House and School House for not posting the Ten Commandments and praying.  Let’s ask ourselves, “Are they posted in my house?  Does our house begin the day in prayer?”  Watch out for the hypocrisy that wants the White House and School House to do what we are not doing in our own house.

All weekend we have heard, we have wondered, “Why?  Why?  Why?”  The government, the media, the schools will not be able to answer that.  They will suggest answers that are in reality only symptoms of a problem they cannot confess.  Since they will not be dealing with the real issue their response will not fix it.  That is frustrating.  Friday happened because we live in a fallen world.  Friday happened because people do evil, and every one of us has pitched into that problem.  It started with another Adam and his wife, Eve.  They rebelled against and rejected God.  They said, “We can live by our own rules.  We will do what we want.”  God warned of the evil that would ensue.  They didn’t listen.  And neither have any of their children.  We rebel and we reject and we do so over and over and over; and have brought into our world 10,000 ways we can hurt and be hurt.

Very few ever do what an Adam Lanza did.  That makes it easier for us to see him as a hideous monster that we are nothing like.  The reality is Adam is little more than an extreme example of what we all are.  There are a multitude of people sitting in churches across America today carrying the exact same hate and anger in their heart as he did.  We just have it acceptably controlled and hidden.  Most of us have learned the fine art of controlling and containing just how messed up we are.  And we think that makes us good.  Of course every now and then one of us flies off out of control and gives us the events of this past Friday, and we in shock and horror wonder how.  But all of us contain the ingredients for a moment of insanity.  Right moment, right circumstances and we steal, we commit adultery, immorality, violence, lying, hatred.  Sure most of our moments of insanity or evil do not devastate on a level that it makes the news, but it is the creep of evil doing its devastation.

As if this story needed any dramatizing, the media has to remind us it is Christmas.  What a horrible time for this to happen?  What does that mean?  Would it have been better in January?  I know what it means.  It is Christmas.  It is a time for children.  I mean Christmas brings out the kid in all of us.  Christmas is about joy and innocence, fun and gifts, lights and candy canes.  Candy canes.  Perhaps we should stop and remember that God did not give us Christmas because the earth was filled with joy and innocence, fun and gifts, lights and candy canes.  He gave us Christmas as a solution to evil.  He gave us Christmas because we are messed up.

I don’t want to miscommunicate this morning.  My point is not about how we celebrate Christmas.  I am not making a point about gifts, or parties, or Santa, or trees.  The Bible is clear that God enjoys watching us laugh and celebrate and have fun.  But clearly an event like this puts some things in perspective and let’s be honest, it takes some of the fun out of this Christmas.  But that forced me to think.  Was Christmas about fun?  Was that the goal?  We sure treat it like it is, but it is not.  My Bible never says that Christmas is about food, or vacations, or rest or gifts.  It doesn’t even say it is about family.  Christmas was an intensely serious moment to deal with an intensely serious problem. Christmas is a clash between God and evil.  Christmas is God entering enemy territory to rescue the very ones who made it enemy territory.  Look in Matthew 2:16-18 and you will see the first clash between what we call Christmas and evil.  It may be the most unread portion of the Christmas story, and it is shockingly relevant.

This historical account follows the story of the wise men traveling to see the baby Jesus who was probably about 2 when they got there.  Herod told the wise men to tell him when they found the baby Jesus so he could worship Him also, though that was not at all his intention.  God told them not to return to Herod, and after they worshiped and gave the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh they skipped town.  The great king Herod was afraid of a baby.  Why?  That’s crazy.  By time this baby grows up Herod would be dead and gone anyway.  Evil knew there was something about this baby.  So since he could not narrow down which baby boy was Jesus, he just killed them all.  We now know what that day would have looked like.  It was a violent and horrifying day.  Bethlehem was a small village.  One commentator said the population of Bethlehem and outlying areas probably meant there was between 10 and 30 boys of that age.  What we call Christmas was met with the massacre of 20 kids because of a crazy guy.  Even more amazing, the event was prophesied.  God knew it was going to happen and told us it was going to happen.  He knew when He stepped into the world, evil would meet Him there.  Resist the temptation put evil in a red costume with a pitch fork.  Resist the temptation to make evil some kind of vague force.  Evil is our rebellion against God being God and communicating His ways.  The evil is our sin. How dare we ask where was God.  How dare we ask why He didn’t do something when we rebel at everything He has done.  People will respond, “Yeah, but the kids are innocent.”  Hey!  Warning: we can’t place boundaries on the evil we bring.

Do you know why there is a Christmas?  Because we are messed up.  Jesus accomplished a multitude of things when He came to this earth.  We have a multitude of benefits because He came to this earth.  My series this Christmas has been looking at them; but let us not stray from this one inescapable truth: There is a Christmas because we are messed up, and the Bible actually says we are too stupid, too weak, and too evil to fix it; and we are going to go to hell.  Unless, unless God just steps in and rescues us.  What we ought to be asking is why would God care?  Why would He come rescue us when all of our problems are because we rejected Him and His ways?  I only know one answer.  ”For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

And that is the only answer for Friday.  The bottom line is we need to be rescued from ourselves.  Friday was nothing more than an extreme reminder of that.  I pray that when Christmas morning happens this year our nation we remember that God cares and has provided.  I pray the church will remember that God cares and has provided.  It is amazing that we need to be reminded, but we get stuck thinking this world is what it is all about when it is the very thing we need to escape.  My fear today is that we will get over Friday and likewise, we get over Christmas.  What will it really take to get us to make our lives all about the gospel of Jesus and joining Him in running a rescue operation?  That idea, that truth, should change our marriage, our finances, our priorities, our parenting, our dating, our education, our prayers – it should change our approach to everything.  And there in lies our problem.  It is just easier to wait and get over it.  Only the Gospel will fix anything.  Will our lives and our words be a witness to that truth?  My answer to Friday? How horrifying!  We desperately need God and by His love He has made it possible for us to have Him.

 

One Response So Far... Leave a Reply:

  1. vwolfe says:

    Wow, thank you Dr. Hahn. I love that you never sugar coat anything. This is very thought provoking. I’ve been thinking a lot about my witness lately, now even more so. Thank you.