Monday, December 24, 2012

It’s Christmas – so what’s the big deal?

“Time and again the church has proved a willing accomplice to its own captivity, in the new covenant as well as the old.  Observing this tendency in his day, Martin Luther wrote ‘On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church,’ in which he argues that the church desperately needs to be liberated by its Lord from bondage to the very things it regards as benign or even hopeful.”

“Is the word captivity too strong?  After all, there is nothing like an Office of Religious Affairs controlling the church’s discourse in America.  In his book ‘Amusing Ourselves to Death,’ Jewish writer Neil Postman (communications professor at New York University) points out the difference between two apocalyptic scenarios.  George Orwell’s 1984 predicts a society ruled by ‘Big Brother’—a totalitarian regime.  Congratulating ourselves on having dodged Orwell’s prophecy, at least in America, we have forgotten Aldous Huxley’s slightly older ‘Brave New World,’ with a quite different scenario.  While Orwell predicts an externally imposed oppression, Huxley imagines a self-imposed captivity:

“As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.  What Orwell feared were those who would ban books.  What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book for there would be no one who wanted to read one.  Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information.  Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism.  Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us.  Huxley feared the truth would be drowned is a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture.  Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.”

If we are slaves, it is not to an external oppressor but to our own trivial desires.  We are willing captives—until God appears on the scene and utters his solemn command to the powers and principalities we have enthroned: ‘Let my people go!’”

Quoted in part from “Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church” by Michael Horton.  Pages 238-239 by Baker Books

Michael Horton’s definition of the American Church today carries some powerful words and concepts.  I quote in part: “If we are slaves, it is not to an external oppressor.   Jesus came “that we might have life and have it more abundantly” not a life burdened with chasing after trivial things.  Yet an honest appraisal of our lives reveals a constant barrage of the trivial, the useless, and the unsatisfying.  Quoting Horton, “We are willing captives…to the powers and principalities we have enthroned.”  Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

“Let my people go” Horton writes.  Jesus came to save His people from their sin (Matthew 1:21 – “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins”.)

Jesus came to serve, not to be served. Matthew 20:28 says: “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

In the midst, the Christ child came to “set the captives free” (Isaiah 61:1-2 says, “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,”

The manger is empty; the cross is empty; the tomb is empty.  Jesus sits at God’s right side interceding for us, waiting for the command from the Father—“Go get my kids”.  Jesus will then rise and come to earth a second time.  Ah, good news for us pilgrims. 

Come quickly Lord Jesus.  Come again – as it says in Revelation 22:20He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”  All this brothers and sisters is the big deal!


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