12th December 2016

Don’t Throw The Baby Out With The Bathwater!

“But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice.”
Philippians 1:18 (NIV)

I have to admit to having some misgivings about Christmas over the years. Commercialism and hedonism, the dubious origins of some of the practices that seem to have little connection with the story of Jesus, questions about the technical accuracy of the details and dates of the popular portrayal of the events surrounding his birth. But in more recent times I’ve become convinced that in an increasingly secular world it’s all the more important that as Christians we don’t “throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

Recently I was invited to an “event” being put on by my daughter’s Brownie group. The invitation had been extended to the local community for the first day of the first ever “living advent calendar” in our small town. But no one was told what this first event would be. The organisers had thought they might attract 30 or so people – parents of the Brownies plus a few other family members, friends and interested members of the community. Yet as it happened, over 100 people turned out to discover that the surprise “event” was a simple nativity play retelling the story of Jesus’ birth. And I couldn’t help but be impressed by the repeated emphasis in the script on the Divine nature of Jesus as Son of God and Saviour. More than 100 people, most of whom probably rarely hear about or consider Jesus, were experiencing the gospel message from the mouths of children.

Even some of my technical concerns with the details of the story were handled skilfully, acknowledging the scholarly debate over the nature of “wise men,” “kings” or “magi.” As Christians it’s easy to get bogged down in these details, questioning the motivation of the messenger and the validity of gospel expressions which don’t perfectly align with our understanding of the truth. Yet to do so can deny others from hearing the name of Jesus at all, the one who ultimately is the Truth. As the scripture above shows, the important thing is that Christ is preached in whatever way. Elsewhere the Apostle Paul said, “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings” (I Corinthians 9:22-23). Jesus himself said, “for whoever is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:40).

As the audience sang the last verse of “Once in Royal David’s City,” I reflected on the irony that they, most of whom were probably not practising Christians, were singing about a glorious future hope of eternity with Jesus, whilst I was feeling uncomfortable. I resolved once again not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Father in heaven, help us not to let our personal concerns hinder any opportunity to share the good news of your Son. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by Simon Williams


simonwilliamsAbout the Author:
Simon Williams is active in the Cambridge Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Cambridge
Comberton Village Hall
Green End

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2:00 pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Bill Lee
Email: cambridge@wcg.org.uk

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