Saturday, December 05, 2015

Bad news and good news

Carol singer ornaments
Carol singer ornaments - Image from
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Philippians 1:12-30

"Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ so that … I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God." Philippians 1:27,28.

Embedded in the Christmas carols we hear piped through stores and malls during December is bad news and good news.

The bad news:
-We live in a world of sadness, brokenness, and sin:
"No more let sin and sorrows grow…" - "Joy to the World."

- There is hatred and war:

"And in despair I bowed my head:
'There is no peace on earth,' I said,
'For hate is strong and mocks the song
of peace on earth good will to men'" - "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day."

There is death
"Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight" - "O Come, O Come Emmanuel."

The good news:
- Jesus came to release us from sins and fears:

"Come Though long expected Jesus
Born to set They people free;
From our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in Thee" - "Come Though Long Expected Jesus."

We no longer need to fear even death:
"Hail the heaven born Prince of Peace! …
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth" - Hark the Herald Angels Sing.
Over and over in the carols, we sing the "faith of the gospel" that Paul talks about Philippians 1:27:

"Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heav'nly Lord,
That hath made heav'n and earth of naught,
And with His blood mankind hath bought" - "The First Noel." 
"Down in a lowly manger
The humble Christ was born
And God sent us salvation
That blessed Christmas morn" - "Go Tell it on the Mountain."
"Where meek souls will receive Him still
The dear Christ enters in
" - "O Little Town of Bethlehem" (emphases added).

I often wonder how the message of the Christmas carols hits secular ears.
  • Do they hear the bad news of despair, brokenness, war, and death in the carols and identify it with the bad news that's all around us?  
  • Does the good news of Christmas in these seasonal songs, the "faith of the gospel," make any sense to them?
  • Does the confidence in this gospel of those of us who believe it in North America and around the world, and our willingness to defend it to the death, set off any questioning alarms in their hearts and minds? Is it to them a "proof of perdition" as "… the courageous conduct of the Philippian Christians was evidence of the spiritual ruin of their adversaries and proof of their own eternal safety"  (Jerry Horner, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1661)?

Our focus verses in Philippians remind me of 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 where the good news of the gospel is also pictured in two ways: the perfume of life to some, the stench of death to others.

Dear God, thank You for neutralizing the bad news of our fallen world with the good news of Jesus. Help me to be courageous in defending the gospel even as it becomes more controversial and unpopular in the society around me. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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