Friday, May 11, 2012

A Great Joy

Luke 2:8-14 (ESV)
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. [9] And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. [10] And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. [11] For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. [12] And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." [13] And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

[14] "Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"

“A great joy that will be for all the people.” Christianity has been a great joy for all the people. Not just the jews who converted, but all the people of the earth. Jesus came for them.
Today, I don’t know what it is, but Christianity isn’t always considered a joy to people. I suppose there was never a time where everyone received the joy. For whatever reason people have always found a reason to reject the joy. And that is what they are doing rejecting a joy.
It should be presented as a joy though. It isn’t always. Sometimes I engage in spiritual masochism. I watch tbn, I listen to Baptist preachers and so on. I can’t say that I often find reason to belong to them. Presenting everything in a spirit of anger. Yuck. This is especially bad when it comes from apologists engaging the culture. It undermines there reasonable arguments when they lose sight of the forgiveness of sins.
And that is what Jesus came to do, forgive sins. In doing so he gave us reason to rejoice, and reason to love life. We love life because he loved our lives so much he died for them. He shed his blood that we might have life, and abundantly. I don’t mean that we should then engage in all sorts of sinful behavior that cheapens life, or seeks to make life enjoyable at the expense of another person. But it does mean that we can enjoy life, and don’t need to make it a chore. This probably means it is ok to let your teenagers date. I get a little jumpy when I hear people bemoaning that sort of thing. I can tell you there is every reason to talk to your kids about abstinence and engourage that with them. It is a lot smarter than encouraging fornication. But we don’t need to make life anymore unbearable for them than it already is at that age. In years past parents were much smarter in arranging marriages for them. Kept them from sneaking around and getting pregnant outside of marriage. At least cut down on that a little, unless you were Mary, but that was a special case.
When we present Christianity as a bunch of rules we do a disservice. When it becomes about not drinking and not smoking we aren’t even presenting Christianity anymore. We should be careful not to forbid things scripture is silent about.


Robin said...

Growing up Baptist in the bible belt very few of my church friends are still involved and most don't even believe anything. When you are given the diet of moralism without Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins, you check out second week, first semester of college.
I didn't check out but got involved with a calvinistic group that supported things like I kissed dating goodbye and other nonsense. I almost lost my mind. Sadly, I know there are some excellent reformed teachers out there but I have this aversion to anything Calvin because of it. Now, the SBC of my youth is running to Calvin which will make something already awful absolutely hellacious.
Why is it that no one runs after Luther's teachings other than Lutherans? What makes Calvin so popular interdenominationally?

Bror Erickson said...

Robin, Those are good questions. I sometimes think the answer might be that Calvinism really spawned all the other protestant theologies out there, and so they read calvin and it is something familiar and understandable to them. They read Luther and can't process it. Lutheran ideas are not compatible at all with these other theologies. So they either become Lutheran or reject Lutheranism, but very rarely do you see anyone attempt something else.