During the Christmas season, we naturally like to talk about the more “positive” aspects of the Christmas story. There, of course, is nothing wrong with this and everything right about emphasizing this Good News of great joy which will be for all people that declares to us that a Savior has been born to save us from our sin. The world is in desperate need of this message of peace, comfort, assurance of deliverance and forgiveness, and God being with us.
However, many of even the most classic of Christmas hymns, songs, and movies, paint a picture and set up expectations that are not congruent with our experience or the first Christmas story. This may not be intentional. However, by focusing exclusively on the positive results or outcome of the Christmas story, we set ourselves up for confusion, disappointment, and even disillusionment when it comes to the real Christian life and experience.
The first Christmas was not a purely “silent night” but a time of harrowing drama.
The first Christmas (and subsequent ones after) for Mary and Joseph were filled with interrupted plans, inconvenience, plans for divorce, monumental decisions, angelic messages, spiritual warfare, drama, death threats, murder of toddlers, rejection, uncertainty, narrow escape, refugee status, confusion, bewilderment, chaos, danger, and so much more. Joseph and Mary were swept up into an epic story far more significant than themselves. This was far beyond anything they asked for or were looking for.
To be honest, (maybe because I just saw the concluding movie in the Skywalker series), it reminds me of the Star Wars saga. Yet this story is a true one based right here on earth, not a long time ago in a galaxy far away! In fact, this is one story of worldwide magnitude that is something more than every myth, legend, movie, drama, or story ever told. Any good story, movie, or legend, in fact, resonates with us because it contains themes that are found in the Gospel message. Themes such as light verse dark, good verse evil, oppression and deliverance, despair and salvation, redemption and restoration, forgiveness and mercy, adventure and danger, etc.
Now, I share all of this to make this simple but profound point: when Jesus enters our lives, it changes everything! When Jesus comes to us, all hell rages against us. When Jesus comes to us, we are swept up into a journey and life of faith that is full of challenge, struggle, battles, victories, and adventures beyond anything we could have come up with for ourselves. Our agenda and plans are interrupted and sometimes redirected. Decisions are made, and actions are taken that have monumental, generational, and eternal consequences. At times, Jesus can be very inconvenient to our desire for earthly comfort and ease.
The truth is, life will never be the same when Jesus is born in us and us in Him!
Yes, there is great and eternal joy you cannot find anywhere else. Yes, there is good news that is indeed the greatest ever proclaimed. Yes, there is comfort and assurance that only forgiveness of sin and salvation can bring. Yes, there is freedom from oppression and sin. Yes, there is a peace that is not of this world and yet can completely change the world. All of this is worthy to be reflected upon, received and celebrated.
But…let us not fail to recognize something Lucy asks about Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia and discovers about the nature of this lion that represents Christ. She asks, “Is he safe?” The response back to her and to us is one in which we only have to look to the first Christmas story to see: “Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”