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12.18.2005    |    Don't you just hate it...
...when well-meaning people get it so wrong? Here's a man, author of a letter that the Washington Post featured on today's editorial page. What this means, in plainspeak, is that the WaPo editors really, really, agreed with it. Hence its prominent placement, complete with a border.

The letter-writer's main thesis is something I very much agree with, as indicated by the title: "A Lesson About Christmas: Lighten Up." Something I wrote here, and here) not too long ago, with the same complaint: that Christmas has become a blood sport of shop 'till you drop. A pagan celebration of money and the things it can buy.

But here's where my thought-to-be comrade-in-arms goes astray. Big time. You get the sense when he writes about Jesus' not-so-quiet riot in the Temple, then this: " I also remember that the theme of inclusion is a thread through the New Testament." Uh oh. "Inclusion." Code for, kumbaya, my Lord, and it doesn't really matter what you believe, so long as you believe, and didn't Jesus just love all the little children...yellow, black, and white, they are precious in His sight...gag me with a spoon.

Well, perhaps this kind of saccharine piety is your cup of tea, to mix metaphors. But it usually leads to incredibly sloppy theology. Which, sure as shootin', our writer then commits. Big time. Here's the money quote:
If one learns no other lesson from Christ, it should be that there is good in everyone and everything and that our mission as Christians is to seek out that good, not construct walls and paradigms of us vs. them.
Well, certainly glad that this is the lesson that this guy took away from whatever church he attends(ed). Not that I'm a big fan of building "walls," although I do fancy not allowing people to claim to be Christians when they are totally ignorant of the Gospels.

Firstly, Jesus wasn't only, or even primarily, about giving us lessons. He was about taking our sins on His shoulders, and dying in our place so that we may be saved. Period. That is the lesson. As for how to apply this great lesson, well, Jesus also has told us this, in the two great commandments (Matthew 22):
37..."You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Now, some take the last and bend and twist it to the point where they claim that Christians must accept all sorts of heinous behavior and simply forgive folks, regardless that they don't repent and just keep on sinning, sort of like Satan's Energizer bunnies.

The Fluffy Bunny™ Christian letter writer says we should seek the good in all. Actual Christians also know that we, each of us, also harbor evil. It is our nature. And the only sure antidote to that evil is Jesus Christ.

Our "mission as Christians" is as stated simply by Jesus in Matthew 28:19: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Yes, there's "inclusivity." "All nations." No, that does not mean regardless of belief and repentance of sin. Although all might be saved, the reality appears to be that most will not be: we are too wed to our sins.

Among which I would include the hyper-commercialization of the Mass for Christ. Take your plastic reindoor and your inflatable Santas off of your lawns. Get down on your knees, and thank God for to us a Savior has been born.

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Blogger silas jones said...

i do believe you actually did not get quite to the point of what jesus was about, however.

yes, he did in fact teach lessons, and yes in fact, he did become god incarnate to bear the sins of the world, but even this was not his ultimate purpose: his ultimate purpose was to glorify god.

5:02 PM, December 18, 2005  

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About this site and the author

Welcome. My name is John Luke Rich, (very) struggling Christian. The focus here is Christianity in its many varieties, its fussing and feuding, how it impacts our lives and our society, with detours to consider it with other faiths (or lack thereof).

Call this blog my way of evangelizing on the internet.

Putting it differently, we're only here on this earth a short time. It's the rest of eternity that we should be most concerned about. Call it the care and feeding of our souls.

I was born Jewish, and born again in Christ Jesus over thirty years ago. First as a Roman Catholic; now a Calvinist by persuasion and a Baptist by denomination. But I'm hardly a poster boy for doctrinal rigidity.

I believe that Scripture is the rock on which all Christian churches must stand -- or sink if they are not so grounded. I believe that we are saved by faith, but hardly in a vacuum. That faith is a gift from God, through no agency on our part -- although we sometimes turn a deaf ear and choose to ignore God's knocking on the door.

To be Christian is to evangelize. Those who think it not their part to evangelize perhaps haven't truly understood what our Lord told us in Matthew 28. We must preach the Gospel as best we are able. Using words if necessary.

Though my faith waxes and wanes, it never seems to go away. Sometimes I wish it would, to give me some peace of mind. But then, Jesus never said that walking with Him was going to be easy...

Final note: I also blog as Jack Rich on cultural, political and other things over at Wrong Side of the Tracks

Thanks for stopping by.