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Thursday, January 04, 2018

DENNIS PATRICK: A CHRISTMAS POSTSCRIPT - 2017

JIM’S TRUCKS

 

 

Gifts admired, feasting over, clutter gone and the house made tidy. Christmas 2017 fades and the New Year dawns.

For the believing Christian, Christmas is never over. It only marks the repetition of an ongoing cycle with the expectation of the return of Jesus Christ.

At Christmas time many people celebrate a royal birth marking the beginning of the reconciliation between the Creator and His created. Beneath all the temporal celebration resides a nugget of truth transcending the ages. The material thrill of the season often masks that nugget.

Christian faith rests on the belief in a personal God who speaks truth. This underscores the strength of the Christian world view. This strength rests on God being a personal God who spoke in the Old Testament and continued to speak through the revelation of His Son, Jesus Christ. God is bigger than any civilization, bigger than creation its self and is not a figment of human imagination.

It is pertinent to our understanding that a people’s world view undergirds their culture. In turn, what people think and believe governs how they act.

In the decades following Christ’s birth, when a person became a Christian in the Roman world, the convert stood opposed to the popular religions of the day. In turn, the culture those religions reflected would also be opposed by the new convert. Early Christians of the Roman Empire were not persecuted because they followed Jesus. They were persecuted because they would not acknowledge Caesar as god above all gods and accept his culture.

Without a religious foundation to inform a people as to what is right and what is wrong, why should this people do some things and not do others? Past cultures, attempting to exist on an insufficient religious foundation, failed to propagate as a society. Under stress these cultures collapsed from their finiteness. A finite human realm alone offers no foundation strong enough for a society to sustain itself. Society without religious underpinnings is very fragile.

In a word, society corporately reflects its most deeply held values collated in its laws, government, economics, and social interaction. These values flow from a consistent, coherent religious belief be it Christian, Hindu, Buddhist or Moslem. When religious belief shrinks or becomes muddled, so does the culture. Multiple “gods” of a multicultural variety produce confusion.

In the modern world quite often when a person becomes a Christian they inevitably question the ephemeral culture surrounding them. Christians, by their very nature, have at times been regarded as a threat to the authority of the state. Some people unfortunately still hold that view.

No totalitarian state can tolerate people who hold absolute standards by which to judge that state and its behavior. In Roman times, as in our own, Christians held a standard by which to judge morals and the state. As such, Roman Christians were regarded as enemies of the state and of Caesar, god of the empire. The emperor as god merely constituted amplified humanity. When Roman society collapsed, their god went with it. During the chaos of decline, people eventually accepted authoritarian government. Christians, however, were not caught in the flux of the relativistic world.

Rome’s Christians had answers -- answers to ultimate questions all people ask at one time or another. Why am I here? What happens when I die? Christians could face persecution because they had the strength of a personal, eternal God who had spoken truth to them. It was their faith that granted them the strength to face horrible death in the Roman arena. Throughout the centuries their strength could not be overcome despite their persecution. Not only did Christianity survive, it grew and spanned cultures, peoples, and millennia.

It all started in a remote colony of the Roman world with the birth of God’s Son destined to reconcile humanity who had rebelled and rejected their Creator.

There is a purpose to this rant. As the New Year dawns it is appropriate to reflect on where we are headed as a society as we increasingly diminish our Christian roots. Will our morals, laws and behavior once again discover their Christian heritage as when our country was first founded, or will we consent to the capricious tyranny of a secular fifty-one percent?

Because of the truth and reality of Jesus Christ, Christmas has a way of living on.

 

Dennis M. Patrick can be contacted at (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

 

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