This Time of Year

I wrote a column in today’s Macon Telegraph, my local paper, about this time of year. I figured I’d pass it on here. You can go here to the Telegraph to get the full thing. There’s just so much going on this year that I think it is sometimes important just to stop and reflect on things.This is an unusual Christmas in the Erickson household. Usually we decorate the yard, have presents neatly wrapped under the Christmas tree, and send out Christmas cards. Not this year.In the process of buying a new house and trying to close around Christmas, we put up a tree for the kids, but everything else is on hold. A friend of mine commented the other day that Christmas doesn’t feel like Christmas unless certain things happen.. . . .We look forward to the lights, the commercials, and the rank commercialism in the season and forget what it is all about.The secular world has tried to wipe Jesus from the season. From banning Christmas trees in businesses to saying “Season’s Greetings” to avoid offense, we’ve chosen to ignore the true meaning of Christmas.Perfectly happy to rely on Josephus, Tacitus and Pliny the Younger for other bits of history, the secular world pretends those ancient historians never wrote about Jesus or his followers. Likewise, having used the Gospels of Mark and Luke as pretty good records of history for nearly 2,000 years, the world would prefer to dismiss them now as propaganda.The dismissal would be silly if it were not so sad. Here we have billions of people around the world who worship one man as their living savior, some losing their lives because of it. We know from history that Jesus’ friends were so committed to the belief that he was their risen Lord that they were willing to suffer gruesome deaths in defense of the faith.There are others who prefer not to dismiss Christ outright, but just to diminish him. They are the more dangerous lot who like to say Christ, Mohammad, Buddha, God and Allah, are all the same or mostly the same. As long as you believe in some amalgamation of one of them, or not, you’ll go to heaven.Christ himself does not give us the luxury of believing all the world’s religions lead to the same place and history does not give us the luxury of pretending he does not exist.From Mark 14:61-62, we have this account: “Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’ ‘I am,’ said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ ”In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”As C.S. Lewis noted in “Mere Christianity,” Jesus is either a mad man or God incarnate. And if a mad man, how many mad men have impacted 2,000 years of history and continue to gain followers? The answer, of course, is none. Even Mohammad fails on that point both in length of time and impact.So when you get depressed this holiday season over it being not as it was or as you wanted, remember that the reason for this season remains. For unto us a child is born and those who believe in him shall have everlasting life.