There is a great line from the late American philosopher Eric Voegelin where he wrote, “No one is obliged to take part in the spiritual crises of society; on the contrary, everyone is obliged to avoid the folly and live his life in order.”
It’s great advice in this time of disorder. It’s not a stretch to say we are living in the midst of what can easily be described as a false age. Even if announcements of “fake news” might seem hyperbolic at times, that descriptive tag carries tremendous weight for valid reasons. We are often inundated with falsehoods by the media, entertainment culture, politics, and online social networking.
And what I mean simply is that any astute conservative observer knows confusion abounds not just about politics but basic cultural norms that have long guided the Western world. And if we are conservatives, we should be motivated to preserve the great truths and liberties bestowed to us.
We are in the midst of not just a political crisis, but a spiritual one too. Truth is not merely elusive but too often trampled. Whether it’s threats to religious freedoms or speech, crippling debt, or a rising and hostile secular agenda, there is plenty to be concerned about. The good news, unlike the secular materialist, we can look to greater hope and truths. We are not merely and only caught up in the here and now.
The main thing I love about Christmas is that it pushes us to confront a deeper reality concerning ourselves. We not only can learn how to look past the present cultural deceits, but to a great and miraculous event that transformed all of humanity. The Gospel of John makes these bold proclamations like “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” In this wonderful way the Christmas narrative takes all these paradoxes and makes sense of our entire existence and world. Just a few: That the all powerful God came down as a helpless and needy child, or that a king came down not to be served, but to serve.
Christmas focuses so much on the incarnation of Christ, an essential and definitive Christian proclamation. The incarnation is exciting for many reasons, but I can’t just get over the idea that God become human. And not only that, but there is now a human person stamped within the Godhead for eternity. Humanity has been sanctified and taken up to God in the person of Jesus Christ.
I think amidst all the daily chaos and bluster, whether it’s in life or politics, Christmas gives us the enormous opportunity for pause and deep reflection. To think deeply about the one thing that has the ability to shape us more than anything else. The whole image of the Nativity that we see so much at Christmas is very powerful, so much more powerful than anything political. We probably don’t notice it or pay attention to the scene from Bethlehem as much as we should. But when you really see it, it does give you a better sense of why some people might want to see it banned today. When you look at it and see exactly what it is proclaiming, it transforms everything, particularly the human heart. This whole idea that this scene, this little baby, can illuminate the entire world and is worthy of our everlasting praise and adoration is truly revolutionary.
If that is true, everything has really changed. The great Methodist hymn writer Charles Wesley said it well in “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” when he wrote the line, “Born — to give them second birth.” The birth of Christ is our own rebirth with eternal ramifications and blessings. That is truly good news.