I saw this message the other day.
It’s typical of the type of witty one liner that we Christians think makes a fantastic point, putting a bullet in licentious secularism and making the case for the Gospel. However, I fear that it has a different affect. A lot of people will see this as an example of Christians behaving like the Scrooge or the Grinch and as joy killers.
But it also doesn’t sit with two very important things that we discover about Jesus and why he came when we open our Bibles. I heard an excellent sermon the fruit of self control the other day from Jonny Mellor, one of the Church Central team. Jonny pointed out that Jesus offers us the perfect example of self-control and whilst this meant saying no to temptation it also meant that Jesus was free to enjoy the goodness of life to the point where he was slandered and falsely accused of being a party animal, a drunkard. Now Jesus wasn’t gluttonous or a drunkard but as Jonny put it, he was
“happy to say yes to another leg of chicken at dinner or a second glass of wine.”
The Jesus we meet in the New Testament enjoys eating with friends, walking through fields picking and nibbling at the corn and telling fun stories with twists and turns. A good few of those stories revolve around feasts and festivals.
Then there is the whole theology of redemptive history. Yes “Jesus came to die for sinners” but the story should not stop there. There was a purpose to his dying on the Cross and saving us. The story doesn’t stop at the cross or in the grave but goes on to tell of resurrection, more meals with friends, a walk on a country road and a fishing trip back to Galilee. The story takes us through ascension and exaltation to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, a birthday party coinciding with a major festival or holy day.
The book of Revelation points us towards a great and final holiday, a wedding feast. Hebrews 4:9-11 tells us that:
“9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works,[a] just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.”
That sounds very much like a holiday to me.
We would do well to extend our statement as follows
“Jesus came to die for sinners, in order that they might be raised to new life with him and so enter into the enjoyment of the holiday of all holidays, the great holiday that rolls on for every and ever, getting better and better and never ending.”
Yes, Jesus did come to give us a holiday. We don’t need to be the party poopers, we shouldn’t be the Grinch at Christmas.