The Universal Message of Christmas is What?

The Universal Message of Christmas is What?

On December 6, the First Family helped light the National Christmas Tree. During the ceremony, the president made some remarks to mark the occasion. In those remarks he said some very nice sounding things, but also some things that I found rather troubling.

While the lighting of the Christmas tree represents the spirit of a specific Christian celebration, and the president claims to be a Christian, his remarks reflected beliefs which were specifically not Christian. Following are some of the comments he made and what these comments actually represent.

Mr. Obama began his remarks pleasantly enough. He said, “For 91 years, the National Christmas Tree has stood as a beacon of light and a promise during the holiday season.” From there he went on to say, “… Americans have gathered around our national tree to kick off the holiday season and give thanks for everything that makes this time of year so magical – ….”

So far so good. But then he listed what those magical things are: spending time with friends and family, and spreading tidings of peace and goodwill. Now, if you take these words at face value, still no problem, right? After all, who does not look forward to spending time with friends and family and spreading tidings of peace and goodwill? Isn’t this what Jesus came for? Well, actually at this point it begins to get a little “iffy.” More on that in a moment.

Further in the speech he said, “Each Christmas, we celebrate the birth of a child who came into the world with only a stable’s roof to shelter Him. But through a life of humility and the ultimate sacrifice, a life guided by faith and kindness towards others, Christ assumed a mighty voice, teaching us lessons of compassion and charity that have lasted more than two millennia. He ministered to the poor. He embraced the outcast. He healed the sick. And in Him we see a living example of scripture that we ought to love others not only through our words, but also through our deeds. “

At first I was appreciative that he referenced the birth of Christ, which is the real reason for the celebration of Christmas. But I was quickly disappointed when he totally mischaracterized the purpose of Christ’s coming. Certainly he did live a life of humility and gave the ultimate sacrifice. And he also ministered to the poor, healed the sick and embraced the outcast. And, as the president said, he was an example of how we ought to love others in words and deeds. But all of those things were only expressions of his purpose, not the purpose itself.

There may be some who think I am being a bit nitpickey here. After all, the president was speaking lofty expressions about great ideals. But what you have to realize is that what he was expressing was the beliefs of liberation theology, not biblical theology. Liberationists believe that doing the things the president mentioned was Jesus’ actual purpose. They also believe that he was not literally God in the flesh, but was merely the best human example of how a person should exhibit God’s highest ideals (their view is that he was an “example,” not the Savior). One of the very tricky things about every form of liberal theology is that they use the vocabulary of the faith but attach different meaning to the words.

Perhaps you would be justified in calling me hyper-critical if not for the next thing he said. Because he went on to say, “It’s a message both timeless and universal — no matter what God you pray to, or if you pray to none at all ….” The message of the birth of Christ certainly is both timeless and universal, but the very idea that a belief in other gods, or no God at all, has anything to do with the message of Christmas is ludicrous. This is wonderful liberation theology, but it is horrible biblical theology.

The purpose of the coming of Christ was specifically to provide a means of salvation for those who are separated from God. That salvation is particularly aimed at those who worship other gods or no God at all. They are the lost Christ came to save. When people step into Christ’s salvation, their lives are changed, and it is that life change which motivates people to minister to the poor, heal the sick and embrace the outcast. Without the inner change, all of these deeds are nothing more than feel good acts. All of the things the president mentioned are mere expressions of God’s salvation in the lives of those who come to faith in Christ, not the salvation itself.

I wonder how many people heard or read the president’s words and thought, “Wow, what a wonderful Christmas message.” Tragically, probably most. But it wasn’t a Christmas message at all. A true Christmas message is a “Christ”mas message. His was a message aimed at causing people to look to humanity, not to God. It was a message designed to move people to serve man, not serve God.

Finally, the president said, “And so in this season of generosity, let’s reach out to those who need help the most.” Certainly that would be a wonderful thing for people to do. But honestly, the purpose of this celebration is not to promote “a season of generosity.” Rather, its purpose is to encourage a season of rejoicing based on the fact that God stepped out of heaven and took on flesh in order to provide eternal salvation to fallen humanity.

All of the human good works and warm sentiment in the world will not fulfill the purpose for which Christ came to earth. And all of the human generosity and tidings of peace and goodwill will not bring true peace and hope to the hearts of mankind. What is necessary is to know, in a personal relationship, this one who came. Only with that salvation does the Christmas tree have the possibility to stand as a beacon of light and promise during the holiday season.

© 2013 by Freddy Davis