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!!!

 

Job’s Hope in My Infertility

Happy-Not-A-Mothers-Day-to-Every-Woman-Without-Children

A friend of mine recently shared on her blog her difficult journey through secondary infertility, how the Lord used that in her life along with lessons from the book of Job, and the happy conclusion to this specific trial.

I’m so thankful for RJ’s open honesty about her battles during this trial and the goodness of the Lord that she experience. Her testimony got my own wheels turning and, as us writers do, I decided to share my own thoughts on the hope found in Job as someone else struggling with infertility minus the happy earthly ending.

How do I process watching someone struggle, find a place of contentment, and then have their desires fulfilled, when I have had many of the same struggles, come to a similar place of contentment, but haven’t had my desires fulfilled?

Funny enough, I do the same thing that helped me find a place of contentment first. I go to the Scripture.

Here is Job enduring great suffering, enduring bad advice from his friends and his wife, coming face to face with God, realizing God is the creator and he is the creature, that God is in control and God is good, repenting in dust, and having all he lost restored above and beyond.

Is there hope for me there? Of course.

Two Kingdom theology is so helpful here. It teaches that Job was in the time of the Old Testament when promises and blessings were very earthly. I live in the age of the New Testament, the New Covenant, when the Kingdom is no longer a physical nation, but a heavenly nation. That means that my life, from birth to death, is the time of Job’s suffering. My restoration, my blessing, comes after death in the next life. My blessing is something of faith and not sight. I don’t look around for earthly physical blessings as something to be expected, though God is materially very kind to me and others. I look to the future and at the church by faith.

The Lord has seen fit not to give me children. At every point of moving into adopting, He has shut the door. Instead of despair, instead of heartache, instead of bitterness, I have hope.

“Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3/ 33-35)

The church. The church is where I find familial comfort here on earth. The older believers are my mother and father, others are my brothers and sisters, and younger are sons and daughters. We may not be tied by blood, but we are tied stronger and more deeply by the baptismal waters of Christ.

But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written,

“Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.”

(Galatians 4/26-27)

The story of Job teaches me that I can’t see all that God is doing in my suffering. It shows me how I’m to view others in their suffering, and how not to view them. It shows me the creature/creator difference so that I can have hope in God’s goodness and God’s glory. It teaches me to repent of the ways I don’t cling to and trust Him. It reminds me to be faithful in the midst of sufferings and trials. And last, oh hope of my heart, it shows that God will restore my fortune to me. He is worth waiting on. He’s worth suffering for. He has given me a hope, not in this life, not in this physical earth, but in heaven to come. And while here, he has given me pilgrims to walk beside me, young and old, as the truest parents, siblings, and children a woman could have.

So, while God chooses to bless one sister with an end to her infertility and chooses to leave another in that particular difficulty, He has not changed. He is still in control. He will use this to bless His church and glorify Himself. He is still Good!