The political meaning of Christmas

Most of us, myself included, do not often reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. Christ came to earth to save flawed human beings. We tend to think of this on a personal level, but it applies to every facet of history. Some of the greatest men in history have been seriously flawed.

Peter was an emotional coward who denied Jesus three times.

Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.

-- Luke 26:74-75

Yet Peter was an elder in the church at Jerusalem, and wrote epistles.

The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder …

-- 1 Peter 5:1

Even then, Peter remained so flawed that Paul had to rebuke him on matters of doctrine, dogma, and morals.

Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed

-- Gal 8:11

And who was this Paul? He had been a persecutor of the church.

As for Saul  [later Paul], he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.

-- Acts 8:3

Yet, after Paul was saved on the road to Damascus, he went on to author most of the New Testament. Paul remained a seriously flawed man, as any who have read his epistles can see.  He considered himself the chief of all sinners, and suggested that we all adopt the same view of ourselves.

If one is Jewish, Moses the Lawgiver was a murderer, as was David. Many of the prophets and heroes in the Jewish portion of Scripture were horribly weak. Jeremiah was a crybaby.

Moving up to the 16th century, one could not find a more flawed personality than the reformer Martin Luther. He had temper issues, and ended up highly anti-Semitic towards the end of his life (a trait that almost sank the Reformation that he had started).

Within a short time after the Reformation broke out, almost half of Europe had joined. Soon after Luther’s death, the Catholic Church waged a Counter-Reformation which took back Austria, sections of France, sections of Poland and Hungary. Indeed, for the next three hundred years, the Reformation was confined almost -- not quite -- entirely to Germanic-speaking countries. It had stalled.

Why?

I believe the divine author of history had to strain out some of the poison of Luther’s anti-Semitism, so that the rest of Luther’s work might survive.

For those who are Catholic, Ignatius of Loyola was a very flawed man, who converted while recovering from a battle wound.

What has this to do with Christmas and politics?

The Lord came to save flawed men. And until He returns, he will use flawed men to get his purposes accomplished.

The problem today, in the media and among certain circles, is that we expect a perfection in our heroes that is not humanly possible. Were it humanly possible, Christ would not have had to come.

George Washington kept slaves. Yet, he won America’s freedom. Without Washington, America would not have become independent.

Slavery was all but a non-issue. The British, the Portuguese, the French, and the Spanish ran cruel slave plantations in the Caribbean and the tropics – run much worse than in the American South. It was not until the American Revolution that the issue of slavery surfaced. Indeed, the Revolution itself inspired Pennsylvania and the New England states to outlaw slavery during or immediately after the Revolution.

Slavery still exists in Muslim countries.

Yet, for an end to slavery to even start, a flawed man, Washington, was needed.

Abraham Lincoln waged a war that freed the slaves. Yet, he had racist attitudes, as did everyone else in that era. But probably no one could have saved the Union but Lincoln.

Still, our “edumacated” betters want our leaders to be perfect.

And who do we get when we seek the perfect?

Woodrow Wilson, the pious son of a Presbyterian minister.  And what did he give us?

Globalism through the League of Nations. Moreover, Wilson resegragated the federal government, and set back civil rights forty years. His worst error was agreeing to the Federal Reserve Bank.

Jimmy Carter, a devout Baptist, who is probably a wonderful human being, but his administration was a disaster.

The point is that men are flawed. That is why Christ came. Until Christ returns, the best we can hope for in our leadership will be flawed men.

So why does God use flawed men? In the Bible? In secular history?

So that God gets the glory, not man.

It is that simple. An honest appraisal of history shows that many of our heroes were scoundrels. So what?

And this is what is going on with Trump.

It is not that Trump is perfect. But his critics are sanctimonious, and often worse than Trump -- at least on a moral plane.

And even here, the Christmas story has a point,

Jesus came to save sinners, not the perfect.

When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

-- Mark 2:17

The only ones that Jesus ever condemned with the clergy of his day… for being sanctimonious.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!…  28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

-- Matthew 23:23-24, 28

I am not inclined to say Trump is God’s anointed, as some Evangelicals do. That title is properly left only to Christ. But I am inclined to think that God has his hand on Trump, who, as flawed as he is, is a lot more humble than many of his sanctimonious critics.

All human beings are flawed. That is why Christ had to come.

Merry Christmas.

Most of us, myself included, do not often reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. Christ came to earth to save flawed human beings. We tend to think of this on a personal level, but it applies to every facet of history. Some of the greatest men in history have been seriously flawed.

Peter was an emotional coward who denied Jesus three times.

Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.

-- Luke 26:74-75

Yet Peter was an elder in the church at Jerusalem, and wrote epistles.

The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder …

-- 1 Peter 5:1

Even then, Peter remained so flawed that Paul had to rebuke him on matters of doctrine, dogma, and morals.

Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed

-- Gal 8:11

And who was this Paul? He had been a persecutor of the church.

As for Saul  [later Paul], he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.

-- Acts 8:3

Yet, after Paul was saved on the road to Damascus, he went on to author most of the New Testament. Paul remained a seriously flawed man, as any who have read his epistles can see.  He considered himself the chief of all sinners, and suggested that we all adopt the same view of ourselves.

If one is Jewish, Moses the Lawgiver was a murderer, as was David. Many of the prophets and heroes in the Jewish portion of Scripture were horribly weak. Jeremiah was a crybaby.

Moving up to the 16th century, one could not find a more flawed personality than the reformer Martin Luther. He had temper issues, and ended up highly anti-Semitic towards the end of his life (a trait that almost sank the Reformation that he had started).

Within a short time after the Reformation broke out, almost half of Europe had joined. Soon after Luther’s death, the Catholic Church waged a Counter-Reformation which took back Austria, sections of France, sections of Poland and Hungary. Indeed, for the next three hundred years, the Reformation was confined almost -- not quite -- entirely to Germanic-speaking countries. It had stalled.

Why?

I believe the divine author of history had to strain out some of the poison of Luther’s anti-Semitism, so that the rest of Luther’s work might survive.

For those who are Catholic, Ignatius of Loyola was a very flawed man, who converted while recovering from a battle wound.

What has this to do with Christmas and politics?

The Lord came to save flawed men. And until He returns, he will use flawed men to get his purposes accomplished.

The problem today, in the media and among certain circles, is that we expect a perfection in our heroes that is not humanly possible. Were it humanly possible, Christ would not have had to come.

George Washington kept slaves. Yet, he won America’s freedom. Without Washington, America would not have become independent.

Slavery was all but a non-issue. The British, the Portuguese, the French, and the Spanish ran cruel slave plantations in the Caribbean and the tropics – run much worse than in the American South. It was not until the American Revolution that the issue of slavery surfaced. Indeed, the Revolution itself inspired Pennsylvania and the New England states to outlaw slavery during or immediately after the Revolution.

Slavery still exists in Muslim countries.

Yet, for an end to slavery to even start, a flawed man, Washington, was needed.

Abraham Lincoln waged a war that freed the slaves. Yet, he had racist attitudes, as did everyone else in that era. But probably no one could have saved the Union but Lincoln.

Still, our “edumacated” betters want our leaders to be perfect.

And who do we get when we seek the perfect?

Woodrow Wilson, the pious son of a Presbyterian minister.  And what did he give us?

Globalism through the League of Nations. Moreover, Wilson resegragated the federal government, and set back civil rights forty years. His worst error was agreeing to the Federal Reserve Bank.

Jimmy Carter, a devout Baptist, who is probably a wonderful human being, but his administration was a disaster.

The point is that men are flawed. That is why Christ came. Until Christ returns, the best we can hope for in our leadership will be flawed men.

So why does God use flawed men? In the Bible? In secular history?

So that God gets the glory, not man.

It is that simple. An honest appraisal of history shows that many of our heroes were scoundrels. So what?

And this is what is going on with Trump.

It is not that Trump is perfect. But his critics are sanctimonious, and often worse than Trump -- at least on a moral plane.

And even here, the Christmas story has a point,

Jesus came to save sinners, not the perfect.

When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

-- Mark 2:17

The only ones that Jesus ever condemned with the clergy of his day… for being sanctimonious.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!…  28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

-- Matthew 23:23-24, 28

I am not inclined to say Trump is God’s anointed, as some Evangelicals do. That title is properly left only to Christ. But I am inclined to think that God has his hand on Trump, who, as flawed as he is, is a lot more humble than many of his sanctimonious critics.

All human beings are flawed. That is why Christ had to come.

Merry Christmas.