When one of my kids was in the high school Chamber Choir, the student next to him muttered, “Why do we have to sing this Christmas stuff when none of it could possibly be true? You don’t believe this stuff, do you?”
Most of us had Christianity selected for us. As children, we grew up in a God-oriented culture. We recited the Pledge of Allegiance containing the phrase, “One nation under God”. What we learned about God came from what is called a Western Worldview which is essentially a view that there is a God and God lives in a spiritual place called heaven. Many of us learned about God and Jesus in Sunday School, at Vacation Bible School, or at summer camp. For some of us, we just picked up a little here and there through Christmas carols and Easter parties. But maybe the question has lingered for you, “Why do I think Christianity is right and true?”
Simply put, there are only three basic viewpoints in Religions. All religions and philosophies fit into one of three categories. They are easy to comprehend. The first view is that only Nature, that is, the physical universe, exists. There is no God, there is no spiritual dimension, and there is no life for human beings after this life on earth. This view can be wrapped up with the term Atheism.
On the other end of the spectrum is the third view. (Yes, I skipped over the second view for the moment.) In this view, only God exists. That is to say, only the spiritual realm is real. The natural, physical realm in which we exist and experience life is just a mirage, a deception. The physical is false. Only the spiritual is real.
The second, central view holds that both the natural world and the spiritual world exist simultaneously. They both are real. Now, of all the religions and philosophies in the world, just three primary religious views or theological systems hold to this central view. These three are Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.
Simply put, in Judaism the story of humanity demonstrates human beings are incapable of living to the standard of the Law of God. Each and every one fails to be righteous, to live rightly every day. So it is demonstrated that we each, individually, need at Savior, a Messiah. King David got it. He said, “I know that my Redeemer lives.” He knew God was his salvation. In Jewish belief, God has not sent his Messiah yet.
Simply put, in Islam the Koran furthers the Judaism experiment with the attempt to form a human being’s spirit by instituting thorough external control of behavior. One can become righteous by doing right things, even down to the proper way to wash one’s hands and feet. The idea of Salvation and eternal life is in one’s own hands and yet, as I am told by my formerly Muslim friend, no Muslim ever knows if he or she has done enough to please Allah. Hence, for some, dying when killing infidels gives a Muslim a good chance of after life existence.
Simply put, in Christianity the Bible story continues within Judaism’s theme but in a different direction. In Christianity, God has sent God’s Messiah and Redeemer in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. The heart of a person cannot be changed by external pressure. It needs a transformation which the Spirit of God does when given permission.
All religious and philosophic arguments come down to this one pivotal point: Is Jesus Christ God’s chosen way to redeem human beings from unrighteousness? The Bible records that Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.” (John 11:25) God wants us to live for him, enjoy him, and serve others in his love.
So, at Christmas, this is an ideal time to reflect on what and why we believe what we do. Adopting Christianity as a religious, moral system is not the same as knowing Jesus Christ in a personal way as the God who loves you, died for you, and desires to live with you everyday. This is the Christmas story in summary and why we sing about it. Listen to the words of the Christmas carols and you will see the message clearly there.