“You don’t have to be Jesus Christ to get people furious at being exposed for what they are. . . . The manger at Christmas means that, if you live like Jesus, there won’t be room for you in a lot of inns.”- Timothy Keller
The Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”- Luke 2:34-35 (NIV)
In Chapter 7 (“A Sword in the Soul”) of Hidden Christmas, Timothy Keller notes that Simeon’s statement in Luke 2:34-35 is relatively unknown. Certainly, no one reads that text at Christmas services around the world.
However, Pastor Keller argues for inclusion of the passage. Because it’s (1) part of what the Bible tells us about the meaning of Christmas and (2) we need to hear it. But most secular and church celebrations of Christmas focus almost entirely on sweetness and light. That the coming of Christ means peace on earth. And, of course, it does.
Hence, Pastor Keller explains:
“[Jesus’] call to allegiance brings conflict – conflicts both among people and within people. Just like any peacemaker who has ever lived, Jesus makes people mad, and he often causes struggle and strife. Yet this is the way his peace comes.”
For example, in the early days of Christianity, believers found Roman society virtually awash with gods. To refuse to acknowledge the local gods created suspicion, resentment, and anger. So, the exclusiveness of the Christian belief and the conviction that Jesus = the God created tension. Because it put them on a collision course with Roman pluralistic society. As the psalmist wrote:
“I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war.”- Psalm 120:17 (NIV)
Today’s question: How do you react to Pastor Keller’s statement about the meaning of the manger at Christmas? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “True Christianity = a fight”