“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the
heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on
earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’” (Luke 2:13-14)
Face it. People don’t
like what the Bible says today. They
don’t like what it says about sin in general and they sure don’t like anything
Scripture says about any particular behavior or activity being sinful (i.e. 1
Corinthians 6:9). What it boils down to
is that most people are fine with the Bible as long as it’s not taken
seriously. Don’t think I’m just talking
about unbelievers either. It is my firm
belief that a whole lot of people who attend church only do so as an imaginary
payment for an eternal life insurance policy, if you will. Just in case all that Bible nonsense turns
out to be true they can stand before Christ and say, “I attended church all
those years…I deserve heaven!” (check out the end of the Sermon on the Mount
for His response).
No, for most people, the Bible is good only so far as it
affirms the way they choose to live. If
you are living a sinful lifestyle you love John 3:16 and Matthew 7:1. Of course, you have to tweak the famous John
passage (ignore the part about believing) and take the statement in Matthew 7
about judging others completely out of context but, hey, it’s their life and they
can affirm the parts they like and ignore those they don’t. And I’m not just talking about one side of
the coin as I have noticed loads of upstanding pillars of the church do the
same picking and choosing of Scripture to affirm their lifestyles. Get on their bad side and see if they apply Philippians
2:3 (“in humility count others more significant than yourselves”) or Galatians
6:3 (“if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives
himself”). It all seems to be just a
shell game. Hide this, reveal that,
listen to James, ignore Paul, embrace the Jesus who teaches to love your
enemies, ignore the Jesus who says “Go and sin no more.”
That’s why I thank God for the appearance and declaration of
the Heavenly Host to the shepherds near Bethlehem that very first Christmas
whatever month and day it actually was.
All the angels of Heaven testified to a very brief but incredibly
important message. God deserves ALL
praise, glory, and worship because He has offered peace to anyone whose hope is to please Him.
Peace comes only through Christ (Colossians 1:20) and faith is the only
thing that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6).
Jesus Christ is the only hope
for peace that anyone has who engages in sin whether they choose to call it
that or not. He is the only hope of the
unrepentant homosexual and He is the only hope of self-righteous holier than
thou pillar of the local church. He is
the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) and “the founder and perfecter of our faith”
History is replete with both faithful prophets and selfish
charlatans. The former plumb the depths
of Scripture and bring to our attention things that make our heads nod and our
hearts sing. The latter twist and proof- text and insist they be listened to and make our heads bow
in shame and our hearts quiver with angst.
It is hard in this life to discern who is being faithful to God and who
is asserting themselves. For two
thousand years the Heavenly Host has been declaring the shortest simplest
message to whoever cares to listen. God
is glorious because His Son enables “whosoever will” to please Him. If we would start where the angels told us to
there would be much more peace on earth than we are now currently experiencing.
Peace to you this Christmas.
Ray Rooney, Jr.