The Gospel According to (Christmas) Carol
Joy to the World
(Be sure to read the introduction to this series.)
First thing, check out this Ford commercial.
Get it? Delivering on the "and" part of the equation is a challenge. Consider the problem posed by our Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag.
"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
Liberty and Justice? Well, we want bad people to receive justice, not be given the liberty to do more bad acts, right? Again, "and" seems to be the problem.
Let's get a little closer to Christmas with this verse about Joseph's "and" problem with pregnant-out-of-wedlock Mary.
And Joseph [was engaged to be] her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. (Matthew 1:19)
You see, Joseph was a righteous man. Mary's condition called for him to publicly renounce their engagement. But, BUT, he loved her and did not want her to suffer personal embarrassment or public disgrace. So his solution was to let her move in with relatives in another city. Yes, he would lose the one he loved, but he found a way to maintain righteousness and show compassion. Wow, God certainly found the perfect man to be the earthly father of Jesus!
Enjoy Acapella's version of "Joy to the World"
This week's carol gives us one simple, yet troubling, thought to consider.
"He rules the world with Truth and Grace"
Truth grows out of Righteousness. Truth ensures that what is expected is accomplished. For example, God expects us to live without sin. On the other hand, Grace is love-in-action. Grace loves unconditionally.
"But" and "on the other hand" are easy to do. And, as in "Eat your cake and have it to", is sometimes almost impossible to accomplish. God has a terrible problem. He loves us completely AND He can have nothing to do with sin.
Perhaps the most popular verse in the Bible revolves around this problem of and:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
John 3:16 reveals God's problem – loving the world and also needing sinful man to perish – and it reveals His solution – letting the sinfulness of mankind fall on the shoulders of His perfect, innocent Son. The Apostle Paul describes this transaction in poignant terms:
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Let's go back to our carol for one more treasure on this theme:
"And makes the nations prove…
The glories of His Righteousness
And wonders of His Love"
Want to drive this point home? This coming week, don't say "but". Replace it in all your sentences with "and". You'll quickly come to realize how amazing God's "and" solution is.
Bonus: Here is a nice post about the history of several most-beloved carols.