One of the great things about the Christmas season is that no matter who you are or where you come from, once you enter into Christmas you will begin to associate the season with the ideals of peace and hope and love and joy. Whether you are listening to a Mariah Carey album or singing through Bing Crosby’s classic rendition of Silent Night, these themes will come to surface in your mind and you will find yourself unconsciously meditating on the Advent.
But the hidden curriculum of this unconscious meditation of Advent is designed to lead you to consider afresh what the ideals of peace, love, joy, and hope mean, both in terms of their experiential nature as well as in terms of their Biblical origins.
Recently, I was able to take my church congregation through an refreshment course of sorts through the Advent themes. When it came to the theme of Peace, we were in amazement about just what The Father was hoping to accomplish in bringing the Prince of Peace to earth as a baby.
Consider this reality of human nature. Humans operate in a basic sequence of being: They have a condition that produces behavior and this behavior leads to the shaping of a perspective.
If these human beings are not saved and shaped by the Holy Spirit, then the Bible describes a particular variety of this basic sequence of being: A sinful condition produces sinful behavior, which begets the shaping of a sinful perspective.
Now, consider what the media, literature, and pop-psychology suggest as a solution to shape this basic sequence of being. Numerous television personalities speak to the need for modifying one’s perspective to free one’s mind to receive peace and happiness. And, an even greater number of books focus on behavior management as a means to peace and happiness. But how many of these pop-psychology experts speak to the need for change of condition?
After all, if it is true that condition breeds behavior which breeds perspective, then why don’t these thought leaders address the cause of the issue, rather than simply staying their course of addressing symptoms alone? Don’t get me wrong, I agree that behavior must be managed and that perspective must be modified. But why should humans work so hard to deal with symptoms instead of the root cause? Isn’t this a picture of anxiety? The word “peace” would seem to require an entirely different approach.
Now consider the Biblical narrative. When God comes to earth in Luke 2 the Bible says that it was good news of great joy for all people and that the result of this coming was “peace.” Peace occurs when humans are aligned in the basic sequence of being — as condition and behavior and perspective are grounded in one all unifying reality. And this is precisely what Jesus came to achieve.
Jesus did not simply come to help us manage our sinful behavior–a sort of Christian way of moving from one pitfall to the next. Jesus did not simply come to help us modify our perspective–teaching us to detach from the material world as some sort of Jewish Buddha. Jesus came for our condition–and in the process came to shape our behavior and perspective.
- He lived a perfect life, showing us the way we may live.
- He taught on the reality of living before God, showing us the way we should think.
- And, he died on the Cross and rose again, doing for us what we could not do for ourselves–changing our condition through salvation.
So this Christmas, the reason we celebrate the good news of Jesus Christ is precisely because Christ followers have the unique opportunity to experience true peace–in a condition, behavior, and perspective–that centers on the greatest gift that the Giver of Gifts has ever given.