“God bless us, everyone!”- Tiny Tim
I love Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol! I love the book. I love the movies: black & white, colored, animated, a mix of animated and live, and musicals. I have seen many theatrical performances of it; even comedic ones. I love A Christmas Carol, but it is not the gospel. Ebeneezer Scrooge, you see, is changed; not by the love of God and grace, but by the fear of death and irrelevance. In the real world, eventually it will all seem like a bad dream to Scrooge and he will slowly return to his selfish ways.
Sorry to be a bummer, but that’s what scripture tells us. I believe God uses the Old Testament to teach us that we can’t do it on our own. I mean, maybe for a few hours or days we can be good and obey the law, but eventually we fail. Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, Rachel, Moses, Miriam, Aaron, David, Soloman, etc. all ended up failing under the law. It was only when they encountered God’s love and grace that they were changed. The same is true for us.
As an example, when I was younger my parents would lay down house rules. Then I would think of ways that I could bend or even break the rules without them knowing, going so far as to one time setting our clocks back so they wouldn’t know that I came in after curfew. Yes, I tried that and, yes, it failed miserably. But, that same boy out of love would do all he could to help his parents and to show respect to them, without expecting anything in return. Under the law I try to be good and fail. Even Paul has this problem. In Romans 7:15-25, he writes,
I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Under God’s love and grace I am changed. WE are changed. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! That is the love of Christmas. That through the life, death, and resurrection of this babe in the manger, we are transformed by God’s love. In Christ we are transformed in such a way that we cannot help but sing and share that love with others. Amen