Christmas carols and divine judgment…

The time of the year is basically upon us where one day you’ll open your door and discover this:

caroling-singers

No, not cast members from a Victorian theater show or well-dressed escapees from a mental ward.

I’m talking about Christmas carolers!

I have a confession to make: I love caroling (and if I had access to a wardrobe like that, my wife would want to go caroling every night for the entire month of December)!

Not only do I love caroling, but I also love Christmas music…well, Christmas carols…well, some Christmas carols.

Okay.  I love the Christmas carols that talk about stuff actually related to Christmas; Jesus, the gospel, etc.  I don’t care about music that involves mommy kissing some creepy guy I saw in the mall, or I’m not even that fond of semi-weird traditional songs that portray Jesus as a baby who never cried.  I have kids, and babies who don’t cry are really creepy.

Kids_votd1995

But, I do love a whole lot of Christmas carols.

I love Christmas carols for a variety of reasons, but most of all it’s because Christmas carols often have a surprising amount of depth to them.  Read the lyrics of the following four popular hymns and consider what is being said:

O Holy Night:

O Holy Night
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
O night divine
Oh night when Christ was born

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand
So led by the light of a star sweetly gleaming
Here come the wisemen from Orient land
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger
In all our trials born to be our friend

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
O night divine
Oh night when Christ was born

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy name

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
O night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
O night divine
Oh night when Christ was born

Angels We Have Heard On High:

Angels we have on heard high
Sweetly singing ore the plains
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains

Gloria in excelsis Deo
Gloria in excelsis Deo

Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ whose birth the angels sing
Come adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord the newborn King

Gloria in excelsis Deo
Gloria in excelsis Deo

See him in a manger laid
Whom the choirs of angels praise
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid
While our hearts in love we raise

Gloria in excelsis Deo
Gloria, in excelsis Deo
Gloria in excelsis Deo

Hark The Herald Angel Sing:

Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled
Joyful all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With angelic host proclaim
Christ is born in Bethlehem
Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King
.
Christ by highest heaven adored
Christ, the everlasting Lord
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King
.
Hail, the heaven born Prince of Peace
Hail, the Son of Righteousness
Light and life to all He brings
Risen with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King
.

O Little Town Of Bethlehem:

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars together, proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth!

How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is giv’n;
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His Heav’n.
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!

So, what do you learn from all that?

Hmmm…let’s see.  You learn about sin, the preexistence of Christ, the deity of Christ, the expectation of all creation awaiting the messiah, the incarnation, the humility of Christ, the virgin birth, reconciliation between God and man via Christ, the conquering of death via Christ, the fact that Christ is the only saviour, the requirement of worshiping Christ as Lord, the reality that Christ is the king of the whole world, the resurrection of all mankind, the reality that Christ is the hope of all mankind, the need for a personal embracing of Jesus within one’s heart, and basically a good bit of the gospel message.

So what’s with my title?

What does this have to do with divine judgment?

josh_groban(Josh Groban has something to do with divine judgment?)

Well, I was listening to Christmas music the other day and I realized I was listening to Josh Groban singing, proclaiming the incarnation of Christ, the fact that he is the messiah, and calling him Lord.  Funny thing is that Josh Groban is Jewish.  He doesn’t actually believe any of those things, but in the making of one Christmas album, he’s been passively exposed to a good wheelbarrow of truth.

Not only that, but I then realized just how many celebrities have done the same thing while recording a Christmas album:  Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Harry Connick Jr., Michael Buble, Andrea Bocelli, NSync, Garth Brooks, Boyz II Men, Barbra Streisand, NKOTB, Jackson5, Hanson, Charlotte Church, Il Divo, Sarah McLachlan, Rod Stewart, Zooey Deschanel, Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, The Rat Pack, Sufjan Stevens, Bing Crosby, the Beach Boys, Glee, Diana Krall, Christina Aguilera, Wham!, Destiny’s Child, Coldplay, Aaron Neville, Twisted Sister, Weezer, Rob Thomas, Stevie Wonder, Dave Brubeck, Jessica Simpson, Martina McBride, Kenny Chesney, Luther Vandross, Blink 182, Train, Brad Paisley, Maroon5, and the list keeps on going and going and going.

That then led me to wonder how, on the basis of exposure to Christmas, anyone from North America would be able to ever stand before the Lord and plead ignorant, not in general (for Romans 1:18-25 rules that out), but ignorant specifically regarding the gospel of Christ.  If anyone in North America has ever sang Christmas carols, they’ve been exposed to enough truth that they’re now in a categorically different league than some sort of bushman who’s never even heard the name of Jesus.

Anyone who’s sang Christmas carols has not only heard his name, but proclaimed all the truths previously mentioned, and Christ will call them to give account for what they know on the day that they face him as judge.

Electric Chair

This isn’t to trivialize the coming judgment or anything like that.  The penalty required by all outside of Christ will be far worse than the picture above, or any picture I could possibly find anywhere online.

This also isn’t to suggest that now we don’t need to proclaim the gospel because of Christmas carols (or something equally stupid).

Rather, I’m becoming increasingly aware that this is the season for far easier-than-normal evangelism.  Everyone is talking about Jesus, and everyone is singing about him…problem is, most people are doing so mindlessly and not paying attention to what they’re saying.  Maybe calling people’s attention to the words coming out of their own mouths might be a fairly non-confrontational way to start a spiritual conversation about the real reason for Christmas?  Need an idea about what else to say?  Two years ago, I wrote out a really simply idea about the gospel in the Christmas story here.

Make Christmas about Christ.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “Sing it LOUD” Unger

Advertisements

18 thoughts on “Christmas carols and divine judgment…

      • Based on this one bloggy comment alone by Mrs. Mennoknight I do believe she and I could be good friends ha! (My husband soon learned to log out of his facebook account 😉 Well done, Mrs. Mennoknight!

  1. Love the post. We’ve done this(caroling, not blogging, minus period costumes) as a ministry every year for about the last 4. Just got my Gift of Christmas package. Let me plug this here if possible for anyone who might want to do this in their area. Absolutely can’t beat the price for the money. 50 kits with an ESV NT, Gospel Tract, and personalizable(yes, I made that word)invitation to your church, all in a handy plastic hanger bag for folks who don’t answer the door out of Scrooginess(yep, mine too) or actually not being there. Right now all that for $35 and FREE shipping on all orders at CBD for orders $35 and over with this code “418245”(I don’t work for CBD but am enthusiastic to see the gospel get out and inexpensively to boot.) So I hope this Christmas season the gospel goes out a little farther!

    http://www.christianbook.com/share-the-good-news-christmas-kit/pd/733584?event=WL&item_code=WW

    Now I’m not a huge fan of the Max Lucado tract inside so I added another tract/Christmas Carol song sheet. You can find that here.

    http://r4e-resources.s3.amazonaws.com/carols3.pdf

    I again echo your encouragement brother. It saddens me to see some Christians denounce Christmas when it gives us such open opportunity like no other part of the year to speak of Christ! God bless!

  2. Great article, and amen to the wisdom contained therein. I was in the supermarket the other day, here in the land of Oz , pondering the wisdom (or lack thereof) of Freddie Mercury singing ‘thank God it’s Christmas’. Maybe it was a lowercase ‘g’? Sadly for him all is too late, but it was a sobering reminder to me that we really must take care with such things.

    Ironically, no ‘baby Jesus’ songs are allowed in our schools any more, despite the fact that we Christians sort of started this whole Christmas thing. Perhaps they should give it back to us and call their Santa holiday something else? We could move Christmas to July, then we who are downunder would finally be able to sing ‘dashing through the snow’ in something other than 35C degree heat! Blessings in Christ, the true meaning of life and Christmas. Sherryn

  3. I agree with other commenters, a very good article. You bring out an excellent point about carol singing unbelievers not being able to claim ignorance when they face judgement.
    Several years ago I wrote the following in a blog post addressing carol singing, but the issue of judgement hadn’t occurred to me. Thanks for that new insight:

    At what other time of the year are unbelievers willingly confronted with hymns praising our Lord – even singing along?
    Despite attempts to replace the “religious” carols with American songs about Jingling Bells, snow men, and reindeer with unusual facial colouring, the Christ praising songs still hang in there among the favourites. At this time of the year, despite attempts to secularise Christmas, in our western tradition, it has remained acceptable, (even among unbelievers) to remember that our Lord was born into this world as a human baby.
    Surely, while this acceptability remains we should make the most of it. There is a starting point for the preaching of the gospel while people have this seasonal awareness of the beginnings of Jesus human life.

    (My full article can be found here: http://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2012/12/21/taking-a-short-break/ )

  4. To help you understand where non-believers like myself are coming from when enjoying the pleasure of Christmas songs…

    First, the remembrance of Christmas past: the nostalgia experienced when hearing this music at the end of each year.

    Second, the songs are all considered to be stories of fiction (more or less). They’re considered to be a part of our human heritage, be it Santa Claus or Jesus, with little to no historical content. I don’t equate Santa and Jesus, however much they have in common. But I will highlight one of their commonalities: they are secularized by those who see no real magic or supernaturalism within them.

    You may think this secularization of Christmas a self-delusion and others may think your choice of supernatural beliefs or to have any supernatural beliefs at all, also a self-delusion. Which makes room for both of us to be mistaken, sharing an afterlife in another culture’s version of Hell.

    However, this doctrinal issue does not concern me like it concerns you because I don’t believe in an afterlife. And I’m even less concerned at the time of winter solstice because it is a time of celebrating the return of more light in a season where we see the least amount of sunshine (one of life’s many simple pleasures).

    Peace and joy to your family this Christmas Season,
    Jerry

    • Hi Jerry! I don’t know how long you’ve been following Mennoknight. I’ve only been following a short while. I don’t know what drew you since obviously you are not a Christian. However, I do appreciate you coming in and contributing civilly.

      Maybe,you just enjoy his quick wit and dash of well placed sarcasm. All that being said I do want to point out a logical fallacy in one of your statements. When you said:

      “However, this doctrinal issue does not concern me like it concerns you because I don’t believe in an afterlife.”

      I think you see after a quick look that that is illogical on its face. It’s like saying something along the lines of,

      “However, this ballistics issue does not concern me like it concerns you because I don’t believe in guns and bullets.”

      Now I know you may immediately try to say this isn’t the case as you have actually seen and maybe even handled guns and bullets, but show me God. This of course would simply be a dodge because the logic of the statement is still invalid.

      What matters is not what you or I believe is real. It only matters what is real. I think you understand that. Indeed you indeed do know God exists. If He didn’t we could know nothing.

      Again I appreciate seeing you here and hope to hear more from you. Of course my hope above all is that you will humble yourself, repent and trust the Savior Jesus Christ this Christmas and therefore receive eternal joy. I praise God he graciously saved me from the eternal hell I richly deserve. He can save you too. I’m praying he does.

      God bless and Merry Christmas!

      • Hi Mason. What I meant to communicate in that statement you quoted was that it doesn’t concern me not because it doesn’t exist (who knows?), but because I don’t have a belief in it. In other words, I don’t know if the afterlife exists, but I accept it’s non-existence as a high probability. And it’s this acceptance that makes me less concerned.

        I hope that clears things up a bit. And I wouldn’t mind if you elaborated on this statement of yours: “Indeed you indeed do know God exists. If He didn’t we could know nothing.”

        And, of course, you know that I don’t think you’ve ever deserved “eternal hell”. If there is an all-knowing and compassionate God, I would expect that he would always grant you time to learn from your mistakes. Meaning — hell’s occupants should have a chance for redemption; and, absolute or perfect obedience should have never been required of humanity to begin with. To me, such a requirement seems highly unrealistic for any human being short of being a supreme being him or herself.

        But, I know it’s thought to be foolish to critique or judge the ways of God as unfit for humankind. God does whatever God wants, and whatever God wants is good because he says so. But from this non-believer’s perspective, “God” is a made-up character with imperfect morals. And not surprisingly so if made-up by fellow human beings. Also, the chance of morality ever being perfected is again, in my opinion, highly unrealistic.

        Back to Christmas: Among many things, Christmas is often touted as a time of hope. What I’ve written above may not seem as hopeful as you’d like. From this non-believer’s perspective, I hope for better things, but not perfect things. I deem perfection to be unattainable. I guess, from my perspective, hope for perfection is more fantastical than possible. (I never understood how ALL things are possible with God. Wouldn’t the possibility of one thing conflict with the possibility of another thing?)

        Uh oh, starting to daydream on another’s blog. Sorry Lyndon. Anyways, have a great Christmas, Mason. May it be full of life and love!

        Jerry

    • Thanks for the thoughts and explanations Jerry.

      So, for you Christmas is about warming your heart with reflections on the good things associated with the music that happened in the past, and lies dreamed up by liars/idiots that are part of our “human heritage”?

      I don’t get what there’s anything there to enjoy.

      Nostalgia is what people do when living lives that currently suck (I can think of a few hundred alcoholics that I’ve known over the decades who all would attest to this axiom), and the celebration of “human heritage” is what people do who live in denial of history. Both Jesus and Santa Claus have a whole lot of historical content to them. I’m not surprised that you apparently know very little about Nicholas of Myra (he lived in the 4th century after all) or Jesus Christ (he lived in the 1st century), but this isn’t the place to come if you think you can play the whole “little to no historical content” card.

      You can play that card if you want, but I’m warning you that it’s a joker (as a courtesy).

      Another 2,000 years from now, they’ll still have more historical testimony to their existence than you will.

      Beyond that, those two have been secularized by people who deny the history around them but still want to hang on to the “positive vibe” and marketability that they offer. That doesn’t mean anything about the reality of those two, or the content of their teaching and nature of their lives and work while on Earth.

      Funny thing about the “another culture’s version of Hell” comment. As a Christian who trusts in Christ alone for his provision of imputed righteousness AND ALSO makes an effort to live an upstanding life, I’m considered “not bound for Hell” by any religion. As someone who denies the person and work of Christ, you’re bound for Hell in Christianity alone. If you’re right, I’m good no matter what. If I’m right, you’re going to lose the biggest gamble in history.

      And you do believe in an afterlife. You may claim that you don’t, but I could take you to a funeral and prove what you really believe pretty quick with 2 simple tests. I’ve had more than a few take me up on that challenge, and nobody has made it passed the tests.

      Peace and Joy to you and your family this Christmas Season as well.

        • Welcome Rebekah!

          You do recognize that the statement was not a personal judgment but rather a categorical statement about the status of someone who lives a good life but rejects Christ. In other religions Jerry would have a backdoor for eternal reward based upon efforts to live a moral life, but in Christianity he would not.

          I don’t desire Hell for Jerry at all, anymore than I desire him to get pancreatic cancer. If he got pancreatic cancer, saying “you have pancreatic cancer” would not be the same as saying “may you get pancreatic cancer and die”.

          I offer him peace and joy in the honest hope that he nay find it in Christ, not as a sarcastic “screw you”.

  5. Tophats aside, this post has touched on something I have been mulling over for quite some time now. It started with Thanksgiving though.
    What is the purpose of thankfulness to an unbeliever? I mean this in the grand scheme of things. Sure, one could be thankful to a parent, or a friend, but when someone says “I’m thankful for you” or “I’m thankful for my health” or “I’m thankful for..*fill in the blank*” if you aren’t a believer, to whom or what are you thankful? If not God, the great cosmos? Random chance?

    In the vein of Christmas carols, sure one could say “those are just songs about fables” but those songs are proclaiming the Lordship and divinity of Jesus Christ. They aren’t just “feel good, warm fuzzy” songs. There is a higher quality in them that, I believe, most would recognize.

    Your comment about Josh Groban really caused me to pause and think. I don’t think I realized he is Jewish which made mae wonder what those sharing his Jewish faith thought about his participating in Christian songs.

    I dont’ know about you, but if a musician proclaiming Christianity suddenly started singing songs about Buddhism or whatnot I would have serious qualms with that.

    Thanks Lyndon, for this insightful post!

  6. So I’ve been pondering this post since I read it and I agree with what you wrote, wholeheartedly! For some reason I keep thinking about your comment about disliking the carols stating Jesus never cried..I’m wondering, is that in reference to Silent Night?

    I had to think about why those songs don’t bother me. I think it’s just as simple as, they just don’t.

    Since first becoming a mother I do often find myself wondering how life with a young Jesus was. While I do believe that, yes, He cried, I also believe He never once threw a tantrum, or yanked something to Himself while stating emphatically “mine!”.

    I am amused to think that Mary must have had the rug pulled from under when her other children came along with a very intact sin nature, and if it was hard growing up as Jesus’ brother (and maybe that’s why none of them believed He is Messiah until much later).

    While I will never know how it was in those young years of Jesus’ life, I still enjoy thinking about them as I watch my own children grow.

    Anyway, I think I was going somewhere with this…but now I can’t remember, so ill end here. 🙂

  7. Just wanted to let you all know our annual scheduled Caroling outreach went great. We handed out 45 of Crossways “The gift of Christmas” packages with my bonus carols/tract. Many gospel seeds planted and hearts up lifted. We received many compliments. If you haven;t gotten any caroling in this year get out there quick! God bless!

Share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s