Saturday, December 17, 2016

"Preach the Word" at Christmas Too

“Preach the Word….”  (2 Tim. 4:2).  That exhortation to Timothy (and to the Church) from the apostle Paul applies just as much at Christmas time too – in fact in some ways, the joyfully serious task of proclaiming the true Gospel applies especially to Christmas.  For it is possible that, during the very time when unbelievers are most likely to show up at church for our special concerts and programs, Christians (for a whole host of reasons) might be tempted to hollow out the very heart of the greatest story every told.

Make no mistake – the early chapters of the Gospels, echoing the ancient prophets, are very clear what is really going on with the birth of the ‘Christ child’.  For that world ‘Christ’ means – ‘God’s end-time King’ (e.g., Psalm 2 and Isaiah 9:6f.).   Christmas means this rebellious, prodigal planet’s rightful Ruler has come to re-assert the reign of God, for the glory of God.  And yes, wondrously, the kingdom of God will mean salvation and peace for all those who repent and believe, but it will mean judgment and wrath for those who refuse (compare John 3:16 with John 3:36).

The Christmas Story includes exultant angels and kneeling shepherds, yes; but it also includes a murderous king and ‘Rachel weeping for her children.’

Christmas is all about an unavoidable choice; we must all choose sides.  Will we repent and bow the knee to the gracious King who saves, or will we persist in our rebellion, even if our unbelief bears all the trappings of religiousness that marked the Pharisees and Sadducees before us?

“Glory to the newborn King” we sing, and we are right to do so.  But when this newborn grows up to be a man, he begins his ministry by preaching:  “Repent; for the kingdom of heaven has come near”  (Matt. 4:19).  Is THIS the message that non-believers will hear clearly proclaimed from our churches when they gather with us for our programs and pageants, concerts and services this Christmas season?

Will we faithfully “preach the Word” – teaching them that, indeed “in the  town of David a Savior has been born to you”, but telling them too that this Savior is the “Christ  (God’s end-time King), the Lord” who summons all people everywhere to repentance, and to a whole-souled obedience.   (Luke 2:11;  Matt. 28:18ff.; Acts 17:30-31; Rom. 10:9)?   God help us to be faithful heralds of the true and saving message of our glorious and gracious King.