Christmas controversies have become as seasonal as candy canes and eggnog. Last year's flap over Wal-Mart forbidding its employees to wish customers "Merry Christmas" reveals how absurd the battles have become.

Christian legal societies stay busy each holiday season, holding the line. But in focusing on the public battles, we may miss a less visible danger in our own ranks.

What image does the mention of Christmas typically conjure up? For most of us, it's a babe lying in a manger while Mary and Joseph, angels and assorted beasts, look on. It's a heartwarming picture—Jesus in swaddling clothes. But Christmas is about much more than a child's birth—even the Savior's birth. It is about the Incarnation: God himself, Creator of heaven and earth, the ultimate reality, becoming flesh.

This is a staggering thought. The Jews believed the Messiah would arrive as a king on a stallion with a flashing sword. But God, who delights in confounding worldly wisdom, dealt with Satan's cruel reign with a quiet invasion of planet Earth. Instead of sending a mighty army, he chose an unknown, teenage virgin.

Thirty years after his humble birth, Jesus increased the Jews' befuddlement when he told his followers, "The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news" (Mark 1:15).

Then he read from the book of Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor … to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden. …" Then Jesus closed the book and announced: "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing" (Luke 4:21).

In effect, the carpenter's son had just announced that he was the king—an ...

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Charles Colson
Charles Colson was the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries, an outreach to convicts, victims of crime, and justice officers. Colson, who converted to Christianity before he was indicted on Watergate-related charges, became one of evangelicalism's most influential voices. His books included Born Again and How Now Shall We Live? A Christianity Today columnist since 1985, Colson died in 2012.
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December 2007

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