It's That Time of Year...
Well, Christmas is just around the corner - as you are well aware. A time for giving and receiving gifts, Christmas events, and family gatherings.
It is also that time of year when folks come out of the woodwork to, once again, throw out the same tired arguments regarding the birth of Christ. Because of the miraculous event that Christmas is, and it being beyond the ordinary, and of course not scientifically possible, it could not have possibly happened as the Bible says.
These arguments have been circulating year after year. The bottom line is that if Jesus indeed were Virgin born, it says that there is a miracle working God and if that is true, then it challenges for us what really matters in life when it comes to spiritual things. Let’s explore this.
From what I can gather from looking at the early church, the Virgin Birth of Christ is one of the foundation stones of the Christian faith. When we talk about Jesus, the God-Man who left the glory of heaven to come and walk this planet, His entrance into the world is more than mundane, to say the least.
Though not inspired, early church Creeds such as the Apostle’s, Nicene, and Chalcedonian, mention the Virgin Birth, and the Athanasian Creed strongly suggests it. But whether these early church statements of faith had mentioned the birth of Christ and the miracle it was, the fact that Scripture talks about it, shows the importance of it. Both Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-38 speak of this amazing event that occurred over 2,000 years ago.
For those who struggle with the Biblical account of Christ’s coming to earth, theories and rumors have abounded for years over His birth. Some claim that Jesus’ actual father was a Roman soldier. Others, maybe wanting to at least give a nod to the Bible, claim Joseph was not only His legal, adoptive father, but His physical one as well.
As I have thought about the various viewpoints on this over the years, I think that there is something worth noting.
Something to think about is that it is not just the concept of the birth of Christ that causes people to wrestle with spiritual things. You see, the baby Jesus grew up, and one day would make a claim that many people simply do not want to hear – He said that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that the only way to a relationship with God was through faith in Him (John 14:6).
That claim of exclusivity bothers some people. To be fair, though, Christianity is not the only belief system that states that someone or something taught is the way to eternal life. Every group claims certain things, including holding the keys to our future. For example, the Latter Day-Saints are clear that there is no salvation (as they define it) outside their church.
The point to be made here is that it is not just Christmas and the birth of the Christ child that people are bothered by. It is the claim made by Christ in John 14. For whatever reason, though other religious systems make similar claims, Christianity is the one that gets attacked the most over this. Some think this is an arrogant claim but no more than what other religions teach. So that is an argument against Christianity that does not hold water.
Another thing that I believe comes into play is this – if Christianity turns out to be true, there is a realization that if in fact the God of the Bible is Who He claims to be, that changes everything.
I am no longer the final authority of my life. In fact, I discover that if God is God, I am ultimately accountable to Him. Not in a way of fear and waiting for punishment for my failures but in this way – knowing Who God is and what He offers gives freedom to experience life to its fullest as it was meant to be (John 10) as God guides and directs us under His loving care.
Regarding this area of accountability, remember that we are all accountable to others at various points of our life. On a job, we have a boss we answer to. At school, usually teachers give us instructions and are over us when it comes to education. Accountability is not a bad thing when the one in the lead is easy to listen and learn from. For some though, the idea it being God that we answer to is, well, bothersome.
But if we understand that Christmas revealed God to mankind in the Person of Jesus, it should make us consider our view of what God is like. Jesus reached out to people others saw as hopeless and worthless (Mt. 9:9-13). He healed people, taught a new way of living, and offered hope to a world in desperate need of it. If we want a picture of what God is like, Jesus Himself told us in John 14:8-9 that to see Him was to see the Heavenly Father.
I am thankful for the salvation and life-change that God has provided and what He does in the lives of anyone who puts their faith and trust in Christ alone to save them. The Christ of Christmas did not come into the world to condemn it, but to offer salvation, yes, through Him alone as we saw in John’s writing.
From a practical point of view, let me first address Christians. Since we have experienced this incredible life that God has given us, look and pray for opportunities this Christmas season to share the joy that we have discovered in Jesus. Talk about what He has done in our lives, not as a way to bring attention to ourselves, but as a way of sharing with others what real Christianity looks like in the life of a follower of Jesus.
And, if you’re a seeker, someone considering whether Christianity is worth following or not, I would encourage you to objectively look at the historical evidence for the Christian faith. As has been said, being a Christian does not mean we have to “check our brains in at the door.” There is an element of faith in coming to Christ for salvation, but Christianity is a historically-based belief system. That is a fact.