Our friend, Rick Pearcey, has written a splendid and fresh reflection about Christmas which we believe you will find engaging and stretching. We are happy to post it here, in five installments, from its original publication at the Pearcey Report. The entire article is available here, subtitled, Good News Confronts Cults of Faith, Secularism, Religion, and Politics.
In light of these considerations, I would suggest four final comments. More could be said, but perhaps this is a good beginning.
First, be an old grizzled shepherd, not a smiley-faced “believer.” The shepherds of Luke 2 do not put God in a closet and say you can know him but only if you go in there and submit to some kind of privatized epistemological baptism that happens to “people of faith.” Yes, the Bible knows about “believers,” but that’s to emphasize the commitment of the whole person to truth-claims that are accepted on the basis of reasoning and information that make rational and evidential sense in the real world. Shepherds, grizzled or otherwise, do get to smile, but first they see the baby.
Second, develop sales resistance. Christmas is about individuals willing to evaluate things for themselves. There is no need to check your brains at the pasture gate just because of bright lights in the sky, fancy advertising, or manipulated symbols on CNN or in form letters from ghostwriters employed by respected bigshots, religious and otherwise. Question authority, think freely, foil the manipulators, eyeball the materialists, refuse the hypocrites, and take responsibility for your life as a choosing, thinking being made in the image of God.
Third, affirm the whole person. Reject the despair of a splintered secular existence where hope sinks like a lead balloon but we’ll pretend it floats because pleasing feelings attend a current holiday. Christmas is about fact and meaning together because the Savior of the world is a real baby in a real manger who lives a Gospel that touches the same ground we walk on every day. Celebrate the humane unity of life as a complete person liberated from brokenness and bad philosophy. Act coherently and authentically at work, in government, on campus, in church, before the easel, in the lab, and with your family. Embrace humanity in community with our true Creator and then watch love and truth burst out of the secular straight-jacket.
Finally, celebrate the individual. An individual named Jesus came to Bethlehem to live and die for people, not for useful cogs in a cosmic machine that burped a mass of humanity into being by accident. He chose a path leading from Bethlehem manger to Roman cross because, despite our choices to walk away from truth and love, flawed human beings remain magnificent creatures of great worth and significance, having been made in the image of God. The Nativity is about regular people, what Francis Schaeffer called “little people” in “little places,” who join with the Creator to rage against the machine, death, sin, and decay. The love of a parent for a child, of a living God for human creatures with particular names and life stories that matter, is not a cruel joke foisted off on us by our genes. Nor is this love of God and man to be disrespected or steamrolled to the ground by the demands of big government, big business, or big ministry. With God we revolt against any who would deify themselves or their groups to transfigure creatures of such great worth into enablers, minions, pawns, and alter egos for the rich, powerful, and hard-chargers of this world.
The Christmas heard and seen in history is a comprehensive and humane revolution of love and truth launched by God for man, one by one, from Bethlehem, to Jerusalem, into Judea, Samaria, and unto the ends of the earth. That’s worth a dance on New Year’s Eve.
- Rick Pearcey