Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Shape of Christmas

Thanks to Tim Keller and John Frame, we are learning new ways to look at ancient truths.  One idea that has come back to us over and over is the perspective that the form in which God reveals his truths to us is critically important to understanding the truths themselves.  The form of Christmas is a good example of this.

And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Good News!  The shape of the gospel is good news.  The original meaning of the Greek word euaggelion (gospel) has faded over time.  In Jesus’ day it had clout.  It wasn’t the word people used for everyday news.  It meant incredible, joy-producing news.  It was the kind of news that would change the course of your life. 

So, why should it matter that the gospel comes to us in the form of news?  It matters precisely because it differentiates Christianity from every other religious system, and every system of non-belief, in the world.  The essence of religion is advice: do this and God will accept you.  The essence of Christianity is an announcement that what you need in order to draw close to God has already been done for you in Christ. 

Taking and keeping advice, however good it may be, is still a burden on the advice keeper.  Did I do it right?  Did I do it enough?  Am I accepted?  What else must I do?  Of such questions there is no end. 

The heralds of Christmas say, Good News!  Great Joy!  Your God has come in the form of a baby… well, that’s another post. 

Veselé vánoce Vám přejeme, a radost v Kristu,

Johnny and Annette

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