Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas should be disturbing?

Sinclair Ferguson, writing for Ligonier Ministries, has penned a timely article called Santa Christ? Now, you know me. I've grown pretty damn ruthless about this travesty they call Christmas. I'm for eliminating the commercial aspect of Christmas altogether (if only one could!), and for scotching the whole Santa Claus tradition while we're at it. That's right. The trite and sentimental iconic representation of the Christmas spirit is really the front-man for our culture's direct assault on what Christmas really means, an assault which is entirely motivated by the acquisitive instinct at its most ruthlessly organized level.

But read Ferguson:
There is, therefore, an element in the Gospel narratives that stresses that the coming of Jesus is a disturbing event of the deepest proportions. It had to be thus, for He did not come merely to add something extra to life, but to deal with our spiritual insolvency and the debt of our sin. He was not conceived in the womb of Mary for those who have done their best, but for those who know that their best is "like filthy rags" (Isa. 64:6)--far from good enough--and that in their flesh there dwells no good thing (Rom. 7:18). He was not sent to be the source of good experiences, but to suffer the pangs of hell in order to be our Savior.

The Christians who first began to celebrate the birth of the Savior saw this. Christmas for them was not (contrary to what is sometimes mistakenly said) simply adding a Christian veneer to a pagan festival--the Roman Saturnalia. They may have been doing what many Christians have done in marking Reformation Day (which happens to fall on Halloween), namely, committing themselves to a radical alternative to the world's Saturnalia, refusing to be squeezed into its mold. They were determined to fix mind, heart, will, and strength exclusively on the Lord Jesus Christ. There was no confusion in their thinking between the world and the gospel, Saturnalia and Christmas, Santa Jesus and Christ Jesus. They were citizens of another empire altogether.
And this:
The truth is that unless the significance of what Christ did at the first Christmas shakes us, we can scarcely be said to have understood much of what it means, or of who He really is.
So, have a very disturbing Christmas, one and all!

[HT: Joshua Otte]

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