“Christianity is not moving from vice to virtue. . .
. . It is moving from virtue to Christ”
This is a great phrase to keep in our minds, especially at this time of the year. With the holidays come all the fun of traditions, family, friends AND horrible theology.
“What is that, you say, horrible theology?”
Yes! It is horrible, even damnable theology.
Don’t get me wrong here; I do enjoy the holidays and traditions. However, we dare not mix the traditions of man for the truth of God’s word. The holiday called “Christmas” has little to do with Christ and a lot to do with toys and trinkets, at best; at worst it has to do with pure moralism.
You can all sing the song,
You better watch out,
You better not cry,
You better not pout,
I’m telling you why:
Santa Claus is coming to town!
He’s making a list,
Checking it twice,
Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.
Santa Claus is coming to town!
He sees you when you’re sleeping,
He knows when you’re awake.
He knows if you’ve been bad or good,
So be good for goodness sake!
How about this from Charles Dickens:
“. . .I am sure that I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round…as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely.“
- A Christmas Carol
And from the famous Snoopy Creator, Charles Shultz:
Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.
One last one from Bill Murray as Scrooge in the movie of the same name:
“It’s Christmas Eve. It’s the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we smile a little easier, we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year we
are the people that we always hoped we would be. It’s a miracle. It’s really sort of a miracle because it happens every Christmas Eve. If you waste that miracle, you’re going to burn for it. . . . You have to do something, you have to take a chance, you do have to get involved. There are people that are having trouble making there miracle happen. “
Here it is, in movie and song, we move from vice to virtue. To the world the message is, “be a little nicer, love a little more.” And, sad to say, it is the message that so many churches proclaim as well.
Joel Osteen wrote:
God is keeping the records. He sees every act of kindness you show. He sees every time you are good to somebody. He hears every encouraging word you speak. God has seen all the times you went out of your way to help somebody who never said thank you. Your good deeds do not go unnoticed by Almighty God[i]
Can you see it? He might as well be playing the same part as Bill Murray and singing “He’s checking His list, He is checking it twice. He is gonna find out who is naughty or nice.” It is a clear call to virtue and the motive is “God is watching.” In another place Osteen teaches, “You are full of potential. But you have to do your part and start tapping into it…You have the seed of Almighty God on the inside of you…We have to believe that we have what it takes.”[ii]
Quite on the contrary, scripture tells us we are not full of potential for good, rather we are full of sin, “And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” (Is. 64:6 NASB). Even the good things we do are sinful in the eyes of a holy God. Paul wrote that “There is none righteous, not even one.” (Rom. 3:10). And then he ends the chapter by saying that no one is able to be made right with God by doing “good works” (Rom. 3:20).
And here is why we Christians celebrate the birth of Christ every day, even as we do his life, death and resurrection; Because we cannot be good enough to merit a thing in the eyes of God. Yet – and this IS the good news – Christ has provided for us. Not by giving us the power to be good and then encouraging us to try harder, or to surrender or to yield. Christ became sin for us and placed on us His very righteousness.
Dr. Rod Rosenblat made this statement on one of the recent White Horse Inn radio broadcasts:
“The law is what God demands,
and the gospel is what God gives.
And what he gives in the gospel
is what He demands in the Law.”
Those proclaiming that the message of Christ is for us to “be good” are sadly and simply wrong! The message is to trust in Christ as our good, our righteousness and our peace. It is moving from thinking that somehow I’ll measure up in the end to seeing that I merit only the wrath of God for even my very best. So, I give up my own “virtue” to hold onto Christ, who grants me His righteousness.
This is the Good News!
“[God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
2 Cor. 5:21
Silent night! Holy Night!
Son of God, love’s pure light.
Radiant beams from thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth,
Jesus Lord at thy birth.
[i] Joel Osteen, Becoming a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day
(New York: Free Press, 2007) pg. 7
[ii] Ibib pg 5