Christmas Traditions: Christmas Carols and Two Kingdom Theology

A better translation.

A better translation.

“Glory to God in the Highest,

And on earth peace, goodwill towards men!”

 I love Christmas carols and Christmas songs. I love the very Americanized version of this Christmas holiday with songs about snow and Santa and presents. I love the Christian side that rejoices at Christ’s incarnation. What could be more wonderful than celebrating the first Eucatastrophe in human history: God became man and dwelt among us? We should be humbled and awed by this turning point in history.

And yet, as I grow in my doctrinal understanding, I often have to sing and enjoy these songs through heavily shielded Two Kingdom Theology Goggles. So many of them seem to think that the above passage means that at some point in our earthly history there will be no more war. Many Christmas songs seem to believe that God is in the business of saving this world.

steampunk

My response, as I hope to have a character in my story say, “The King isn’t in the business of saving this world. This world isn’t going to be saved. The King is in the business of saving his souls. That’s what he’s doing. He saving his souls out of this world. Not saving this world.”

There will never be peace here, on this earth, but that doesn’t mean God is dead. “God is not dead, nor does he sleep. The wrong shall fail, and right prevail, with peace on earth.” This line is true. Just not in the way intended in the context of the poem. God isn’t taking sides in man’s petty wars. (Though I believe in fighting for what’s right.) So that the good guys win. (Thought I’m thankful when they do.)

This is one of those cases where you have to understand and define what’s being said. And dear reader, if you do, the world makes more sense, and the Christmas Carols take on a whole new depth of joy!

Peace on Earth isn’t about a lack of bickering and fighting. It is about God himself breaking into time and into our hearts and ending the war between us. From birth, we have all in a bitter, violent war against God that we are going to lose. You can’t win a war against God, but we’re fighting it anyway. And we’re not fighting it in a valiant Ragnarok/300 way: fighting because it’s right even if there’s no hope of winning. This is outright rebellion against good, right, light, and hope. This is us clinging to small rebellions when better has been offered to us. This is your three year old throwing a fit over a small piece of trash when you’re trying to offer her a new toy. It’s mean, petty, and ridiculous. Honestly, it’s sad. And yet we keep proudly plodding along in our fight against God.

Who would save us? We wouldn’t, couldn’t stop. We are at constant war with God.

Eucatastrophe.

God came to us.

He didn’t come in pomp, or pride, or might…which he could have. He came in humility, born into this world like we are, born in a cold dirty place, and living a cold dirty life, and dying a tortured death. All this and more he endured for us! To bring peace. We couldn’t bring peace, so God himself brought peace.

“Peace on earth, goodwill towards men” is one of the greatest lines in all of history. For some of us, those called, chosen, elected, the war is over. Gently, God has taken the trash we so vainly screamed over and given us something better than a toy.

So, Joy to the World, the Lord has come! Good Christian men rejoice, with heart and soul and voice. God rest ye Merry Gentlemen, let nothing you dismay, remember Christ your Savior was born!

Could there be a more amazing, awesome, joyous event to celebrate than God ending the war that we started?

This earth will burn. It will be judged. God isn’t here to save this place, or make it a nice place to be, or make us nice to each other. God is here to gather His people home. The people He is now at peace with. Those who still fight this horrible war against Him aren’t at peace. There is no goodwill. They have refused to repent. They have not had their hearts broken by God.

But, for those of us who have had their hearts broken, who have agreed with God’s assessment of the vile wickedness of our sin, who have experienced an undeserved rescue:

“Glory to God in the Highest,

And on earth peace, goodwill towards men!”

are some of the most beautiful words in history.

 

Merry Christmas!!!

 

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