Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth . . .

Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth . . .

Timothy Keller wrote Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ (Viking) in 2016.  Pastor Keller started Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City in 1989 with his wife and three sons.  Today more than five thousand people regularly attend on Sundays.  The author finds Christmas, like God Himself, more wondrous and more threatening than we can imagine.  Most significantly, we must grasp this spiritual truth about Christmas first.  That the world is a dark place.  Thus, we only find our way and see reality with Jesus as our Light.  Because the belief that we can save ourselves only leads to more darkness.  Hence, Pastor Keller defines Christmas as the most unsentimental, realistic way of looking at life.

Jesus brought light to save us from outside this world.  Indeed, Jesus is the Light!  And we only come into His light through repentance.  Furthermore, Christmas shows us that Christianity isn’t good advice.  It’s good news!  When God’s promises come true, they always burst the banks of your imagination.  Above all, once you grasp the incarnation as a reality, other difficulties, such as Christ’s atonement, dissolve.  Jesus literally moved heaven and earth to get near us.  So, when we give Christ our supreme allegiance, we get what we need most from Him.  We need Jesus to name us.  However, Jesus’ claim of absolute authority and summons to unconditional loyalty inevitably trigger deep resistance in the human heart.  Anything that compromises its rule threatens the ‘little King Herod’ in your heart.

In addition, Pastor Keller contends that Christians are just as hostile to God’s sovereignty as the nonreligious.  Christians, though, just find religious ways to express and hide it.  Therefore, Christians must be intentional about growth, prayer, and accountability.  Responding in faith to the hidden Christmas involves a whole-person experience that includes the intellect.  Yet, faith moves beyond mental assent and duty to involve the whole self- mind, will, and emotions.  If Christianity is something done for you, to you, and in you, then there’s a constant note of surprise and wonder visible to all.  Also, if your find the message challenging or hard to believe, maintain your focus on the message.  Rather than the messenger.

In conclusion, Pastor Keller exhorts, look at Christmas.  Look at what Christ did.  Jesus’s call to allegiance brings conflict among people and within people.  Just like any peacemaker, Jesus makes people mad, causing conflict and strife.  But deeper peace and joy ultimately result from these conflicts.  Consequently, don’t shrink back.  Instead, follow Jesus to peace.  Christmas serves as a challenge and a promise about fellowship with God.  And this is the very heart of the hidden Christmas message: unimaginable greatness packed into a manger.  Hidden in the ordinariness of joy you find the extraordinary riches of the Gospel!

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Dave Henning

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