What joy can pierce the humdrum sameness that stalks our fallible lives on the way to inevitable death? Some pagan rationalists, cynical about Christianity, prefer the Interfaith choir’s version of the old carol: “Joy from the World!” Alas, there is little joy emerging from the world. Recent headlines tell the age-old story:
- “This Christmas—Firearm Sales Way Up During Holiday Season,” report gun shops.”Faster than a speeding bullet, guns are going out the door…People are just coming in to protect themselves.”
- At this time of the year, not just the night is silent. The Salvation Army red kettles are as silent as mice in places like Detroit, where not much joy is being spread around.
- In the bleak, mid-winter of Pittman, NJ, The Freedom from Religion Foundation hangs out its sign which reads: “At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”
There is really no hope from the pagan rationalists if we must get our joy only from the world. Our puny reason knows only a miniscule portion of the world we inhabit, and even less of the vast cosmos that surrounds us. Human reason has given us enough bloody wars and ecological disasters to unsettle even the hardest heart.
Pagan irrationalists do no better at exuding joy. A Roman Catholic feminist theologian finds “more congenial the myths of the pagan goddesses.” She is attracted by “the cyclical character of the nature and fertility religions, pagan religions.” Another goddess worshiper states: “There is a cyclic pattern to the universe, so there need be no fear of death.” At death we recycle to nothingness. The goddess of pagan One-ism joins everything, both good and evil, in her encircling womb and becomes the symbol for the deification of humanity. As the symbol of Nature, she is the divine Savior who will lead humanity into another, more peaceful and loving civilization. But there is a catch. You are Nature, and thus you are your own savior. The Goddess says, “If that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without.” So for hope and joy we must look within, using a DIY spirituality, like the Hindu-inspired Self Realization Fellowship in Encinitas, CA, which promotes inner self-discovery, yet has engraved on the outside wall of its meeting place: “Joy to the World.” But self-discovery is not very joyful if the Bible verse is true that says: “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. Who can know it?”
Why does Paganism even try to be upbeat? It is because the hope of a better future is built into the human soul by God the Consummator. But a cyclical pagan future is always the same as a pagan past. Being one with timeless Nature finally means that nothing ever really changes. They point to evolutionary change, but microscopic changes measured in millions of years fail to explain such changes as the inorganic to organic or the animal to human.
Pagan-inspired liberal “Christianity” declares that the mystery of Christmas is that “flesh becomes Word.” Joy consists in banishing from consciousness notions of a personal loving Creator, of human sin, evil and the final judgment. But if such ideas are true, rejecting them will lead to a separation from God far worse than a nightmare.
Wake up to real JOY! In the Bible there are two astounding events that shake the socks off the drabness of the endless pagan cycle of unchanging reality. At the time of Canaanite Nature worship, Moses, inspired by the Creator Lord, describes an event of enormous power and newness: Matter is not eternal because “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The Word created flesh.
The second astounding declaration was heard when Greco-Roman creation-denying paganism dominated the earth. The eye-witness apostle John announced: “The Word became flesh.” These two great acts of God change everything. The Creator of flesh, because of the Fall, now takes on human flesh as the Savior of creation. Christmas is a joyful, worshipful celebration of God’s unimaginable condescension, which lights up our sinful, drab world.
At this time of the year, an unmistakable expectancy hangs in the air: there is surely more to life than meets the eye! Life cannot be a nightmare. One day, for those who trust in Jesus the Creator/Savior/Consummator, all our best dreams will become reality. The entire creation will be transformed, and our created flesh will become glorious bodies, reshaped for eternal joy with our Maker and loving Savior. May Christians all over the globe declare this Christmas message of joy to the world!
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of Grace and truth…And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:14-16).