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Rose-colored Glasses

January 05, 2020
By Rev. David French

I’m sure you’ve noticed how quickly people can forget how things really were in the past, and with time, remember them or see them, as the saying goes, through “rose-colored glasses.” It happens all the time when we’re thinking about the good old days. The times we did this or that thing with this or that couple or family. Those really were good times. We often just seem to forget about the this, that, and the other things that caused us to complain about how unfair and hard life was during those same “good old days.”

We see the same kind of thing with moms. I don’t know what it is in women that makes them this way, but it seems like all moms have a gift for remembering the “joys” of pregnancy and childbirth, while forgetting all about the discomfort, the mood swings, and the pain. When asked about that you hear “Oh it wasn’t that bad.” Really? That’s not what you’ve been saying the last few months. But, really, that’s a good thing, I mean, if it weren’t for those post-partum rose-colored glasses, even two children in a family would be a rare thing.

As we gather together on this second Sunday after Christmas, it’s with that same understanding of amnesia-like, rose-colored glasses that we begin our meditation this morning. Why? Think about it. I personally don’t know of anyone who looks at Christmas as a sobering or dark time. To be sure, there are examples of seasonal depression. I understand the short hours of daylight, the cold, the money pinch, the family issues that can make this time of year hard for some people. I know full-well that this time of year can be depressing for some people. I get that, but that’s not what I’m talking about. 

I mean, no one looks at Christmas the way we look at 9/11 or Pearl Harbor Day. No one ever considers Christmas to be a day of “infamy.” Through our rose-colored glasses, we see only a festive, joyous time, the same way we think about the Fourth of July or Memorial Day, complete with parades and family reunions and festive meals. And, obviously, that includes Christians. But still, I’m not just talking about the commercialized version of Christmas. I’m talking about the theological, churchly understanding of Christmas. It too is all fun and joy and Christmas cheer and the mystical Christmas spirit.

Now you may be thinking, “ … What’s wrong with that?” Well, it goes back to what we’ve been talking about this past Advent season. Why did Jesus come to this earth? Why was He conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin in a dirty stable in little Bethlehem? Simply put, He came because of our sin. Jesus is God’s plan for our salvation. His Son came to live in our place and die for our sins. That is, He came to pay the debt we owe for our sin because He loves us and knows we can’t afford the payment ourselves. The truth is, we can’t afford the price for even one actual sin, not to mention the original sin we inherited.

Tell me, do you think Christ’s victory over sin, death, and the devil for you came easy? Do you think satan just rolled over and played dead when Jesus came into the world? My friends, not only did satan not roll over and play dead then, but he is still actively roaming and tempting and seeking to destroy the faith and all who are in the faith. No one who confesses Christ as their Lord and Savior is immune from satan’s attacks.

That’s what I mean when I talk about the rose-colored Christmas glasses we all wear. I don’t think most people, even Christians, know that Christmas time is also supposed to be remembered as a very bloody yet triumphant time in the life of the Church. It’s no accident that our earliest church fathers set aside the three days that follow Christmas Day as special days of remembrance and thanksgiving for fallen, faithful saints, that is, people who suffered and died in the name of Christ Jesus.

December 26th is recognized as St. Stephens Day. You remember Stephen, right? He’s one of the very first martyrs of the New Testament church. He was stoned to death because of his faith. December 27th is remembered as St. John’s day. Again, you know John. He wrote a gospel, three epistles and the book of Revelation. He was the one who suffered years of tribulation and pain and exile. Why? Because he was faithful to Christ in a world that wasn’t. And then there’s December 28th—the day we remember as “the slaughter of the holy innocents.” It’s hard to imagine the killing of all those babies whose only crime was that they were born around the same time as Jesus. That, by the way, is why they’re referred to as “innocent,” not because they were without sin, which is how some Christian churches view babies today. The truth is, like us, they were offspring of Adam and Eve, and so, born of sin.

So, what does all this mean? Why did and should the church care about these special days? Remember, satan didn’t roll over and play dead when Christ came into this world. Christ’s victory over sin came with a very high price tag. What most people either don’t understand or don’t remember is that this price wasn’t just paid on Good Friday.

In Christ, the babe born in Bethlehem, God was already rooting out sin, and so already reconciling His fallen and sinful people back unto Himself. But unfortunately, sin doesn’t die without a fight. It never has, and it never will. And so, truly, those little ones whose only crime was being born in the wrong place at the wrong time are martyrs, the very first to be murdered because of Christ in the New Testament church. Kind of puts Christ’s words, “unless you repent and become like little children, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven” into a different light, doesn’t it?

That’s what we’re called to remember today. We’re called to take off the rose-colored glasses and remember that Christ’s victory over sin, your victory over sin, came with a price. A price Jesus paid in full for all, but that doesn’t mean being a faithful child of God will be easy. It never has been, and it never will be, at least not on this side of heaven. In fact, I heard just the other day that this past year, Christianity was the most persecuted religion in the world. Daily, Christians are being killed because of their faith in Christ. But even the thought of dying for the faith is completely foreign and perhaps thought of as outdated to us sophisticated westerners.

My fellow redeemed, as we continue to journey through this Christmas season into Epiphany, take some time to view your reality through the lens of the cross and not through those rose-colored glasses we so often wear. Recognize in humble, penitent faith that Christmas time really is a sobering time. Understand that I don’t mean to say that it’s a sad time. It’s not. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. By grace through faith alone, we know that this really is a time to celebrate. Jesus came to earth for you and me and fully paid the price for our sin, and in Him we are forgiven.

My prayer for you this next year and every year that follows is that you recognize this joyous truth in all its fullness. I pray that you recognize the depth of your sin and what God’s gift of salvation means for you. While you will be tempted, it’s not something to be taken for granted. It came at a price, a price Jesus freely and willingly paid for you His precious child.

In His name, Amen.