I just heard a new Christmas song on the radio. It was lovely. But it also contained some pretty weak theology. It was about how Jesus came to save us with joy and restore the child in us. It reminded me how so many people in our culture are OK with the idea of a safe little baby who came to bring us joy and peace. The real Jesus was anything but “safe.” And he didn’t come to eliminate conflict or make us feel good.
Yes, Jesus is the Prince of Peace. But the peace he brings isn’t the absence of conflict or struggle. In fact, the adult Jesus made it clear that he didn’t come to bring peace–at least not as we tend to think of peace. (Matthew 10:34) Through Jesus, we can have peace, but not through the elimination of struggle, conflict, and suffering. Instead, we can have an internal peace in spite of these things. (Philippians 4:7) More importantly, we can have peace with God through Jesus.
Of course, we can find joy in the coming of Jesus, but joy is just a side effect. Jesus didn’t come just to make us feel better. He came to deal with an otherwise unsolvable problem of our sin. He came to take the punishment that we deserved. He came to appease the wrath of God that we justly deserved. Jesus came that we might be restored to God, and that is what brings us joy.
This Christmas, be aware of voices that tell us to substitute a safe, sanitized, socially acceptable version of Jesus. It seems appropriate to end this mini-rant with the words of the very wise Mrs. Beaver from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe:
“Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”