I received a phone call today from our local Chamber of Commerce, asking whether our congregation would consider spending some time around Christmas singing carols on the street corners among the hustle and bustle of festive shoppers.
Community outreach is near to my heart, so I welcomed the opportunity. But at the same time, it raised some questions in my mind: What is the message that should be going forth around Christmas time? Is it any different than at other times of the year? Do the carols we sing accurately promote the gospel message?
Many Christmas songs put a strong emphasis on the truth we read in Matthew 1:23, where Christ is called Emanuel: God with us. Thinking on this truth brings a feeling of warmth and satisfaction to the heart of a believer. Secular carols harp on that feeling and weave in scenes of coziness and flickering fireplaces amid a cold and snowy world.
But there is another fact that is equally true, which John the Baptist highlighted when he said, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. Yes, the God-man did come and dwell among men, but why? What was His purpose? Man had a sin problem which only God could remedy.
John, in his first epistle, deals with this question at least five times; giving us a window into God’s plan, not only for Christ but for fallen humanity, laid in place before the foundations of the world.
For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested... (IJo 3:8).
He Came to Take Away our Sin.
And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins, and in him is no sin (1Jn 3:5).
O holy Child of Bethlehem!
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in,
Be born in us today.
He Came to Destroy the Works of the Devil.
He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil (1Jn 3:8).
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas Day;
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
He Came to Give us Eternal Life
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him (1Jn 4:9).
Hark, now hear the angels sing,
A king was born today,
And man will live forevermore,
Because of Christmas Day.
He Came to Be the Propitiation for our Sins
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1Jn 4:10)
Jesus is our Morning Star,
Brightly gleaming from afar;
He is sent to guide the way
From the darkness into day,
And His dying love alone
Can for all our sins atone
He Came to Be the Savior of the World
And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world (1Jn 4:14).
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell
Thy people save
And give them victory
O’er the grave.
John shows clearly the purpose of the incarnation was part of a great plan to rescue man from sin’s grip. He emphasizes the far-reaching extent of His love in I John 2:2, And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.
Again, what is the message that we are singing? Is it consistent with John’s message? We hope others catch it, but let us not miss it ourselves.
May we go forth singing the joyful carols of Christmas, allowing the message to soften our hearts. Then take that message to the lost and hurting world. Offer hope. Offer healing. Point them to Jesus.