Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
There are precious lessons in the true history of the birth of Christ. And they are heart-warming, faith-building, to contemplate all through the year, not just in December. When Jesus said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32), the principle applies even to truths of the history of Jesus. Fiction does not build faith; it weakens it, even when it is cleverly designed and apparently "beautiful."
(1) God has wisely withheld from the world the knowledge of the actual day of Jesus' birth. It was never His plan for the world to celebrate any day for His birth, but rather to ponder constantly why He became "one" with us, taking upon His divine nature our fallen sinful nature and becoming "Immanuel," God with us. The New Testament is silent regarding the day of His birth or any practice of observing it. Danger lurks in creating customs that He has not commanded: "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted shall be uprooted" (Matt. 15:13).
(2) The danger is evident; look at the way "Christmas" has become a wild commercial extravaganza, precisely what Revelation 18:7ff describes as "Babylon." If children are not clearly taught the truth of the humble birth of Jesus in contrast to popular fiction, they will inevitably confuse idolatry ("covetousness," Luke 12:15) with Christian living. Expecting gifts rather than giving to Jesus becomes almost ineradicable. Such confusion leads directly to our "lukewarmness," which makes Jesus want to vomit (Rev. 3:16).
(3) A faith-building truth about the virgin Mary is lost when fiction replaces Bible facts. Abundant New Testament evidence reveals that she was a mature woman who had wrestled with her own serious problems and had overcome doubt through faith. She speaks in her poem of her "low estate" (Luke 1:48, KJV; Greek, tapeinosis, translated elsewhere as "humiliation," Acts 8:33; "abasement," Luke 14:11; even "vileness, " Phil. 3:21, KJV). What was outstanding about her was not teenage beauty and physical charm (as artists portray her), but her choice to "believe" (Luke 1:45). More than any woman, she had an immense capacity for sorrow, for a giant sword was to "pierce through [her] own soul also" (Luke 2:35; Greek, romphaia, used for Goliath's weapon, LXX [Septuagint]).
The Bible portrait suggests that like her Son, she was "acquainted with grief," perhaps even "despised of men."
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 23, 1999.
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