By Dave Brewer
The lyrics to the Christmas song say, “It’s the time of the year when the world falls in love.” The world falls in love because the Christmas season is enchanting, it is flooded with a spirit of giving, spawned by the gift of the Christ child unique to the Christian faith. The Jews had prayed for centuries for the Messiah, and their prayers were answered with the birth of Jesus. All over the globe people celebrate Christmas, and soldiers and travelers long to be at home with their family and loved ones. Jesus has come to restore the hearts of men, to rescue them from the darkness of loneliness, rejection, injustice, and sin. Isaiah 9:2 said, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light . . . For to us a child is born, to us a son is given . . . And he shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” When Jesus began his ministry in Luke 4:18 he read from the text of Isaiah 61: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Ancient Greece taught men four cardinal virtues: prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude. The advent of Christianity added to these, four virtues unknown to the ancient world- faith (in a personal, loving God), compassion for hurting people, belief in human dignity (the worth of individual life, the elevation of women, and human rights), and hope for a better world. It also contributed a timeless, universal moral compass- the Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments. These virtues elevated man from the darkness of superstition, gave individuals dignity and worth regardless of their ancestry, social standing, race, sex, or education; brought the concept of mercy into a barbaric world, and gave all men hope for a better world on earth and in the eternal kingdom of heaven.
The biblical concept of covenant and God-given unalienable rights provided the foundation for the historic landmark known as the American Republic. And the Bible gave mankind the proper diagnosis for the causes of war, crime, violence, exploitation, tragedies, injustice, cruel totalitarian regimes, and cultural decay, because we live in a fallen world and men are born with a sinful nature.
History provides lessons for us to learn so that we do not repeat its follies. Both the totalitarianism of the Nazi State and the Soviet Communist regime elevated the State above everything else. They called the individual to sacrifice everything- rights, property, education; control of the media, press, wealth, industry, and life to the State.
This sacrifice of individuality to the State was not just a matter of being seduced by academic intellectuals, but was willingly endorsed by millions of young men and women in Germany and Russian. How was this possible? Peter F. Drucker wrote that this grew out of the deepest despair. The Nazis and the Communists attracted the “noblest and the bravest of young people because they refused to compromise with a world that had no genuine values worth dying for and no valid creed worth living for.” Drucker, trained in international law, fled Germany in 1933 because he saw the handwriting on the wall. Young people are idealistic, and they need meaning and purpose in their lives. When German and Russian intellectuals abandoned evangelical Christianity, it left a moral and spiritual vacuum. The Germans embraced Enlightenment reason, and the Russians advocated atheistic Marxist class warfare.
Adolph Hitler and Lenin, through Nazi and Communist ideology gave the young a cause they could believe in, one which they could dedicate their hearts and lives to sacrificially. With great fervor and blind emotion their youth gave their souls to the Devil. This led to great cultural upheaval and the eventual decay of human rights, human dignity, and moral values, plunging the world into totalitarianism, holocaust, slave labor, and world war that cost tens of millions of lives.
When America went through a cultural revolution in the Sixties, it too was the result of a moral and spiritual void. Christianity through our churches had become compromised, dull, institutionalized, watered-down, unconcerned and uninvolved with safeguarding America’s ideals and institutions, and unattractive and irrelevant to the young.
Today vast numbers of American young people and millennials have the same questions of the pre-World War youth: WHAT VALUES ARE WORTH DYING FOR, AND WHAT CREED IS WORTH LIVING FOR? They no longer see any reason to attend church. Jesus Christ gives people from every race, sex, and social standing meaning and purpose in life. Because we are loved, we learn to love and give grace to others. Our lives are significant because we are vital to building an eternal kingdom and breaking down walls of hatred and injustice that divide people or destroy them. Every decent career is a calling of God to glorify him and to be a redemptive force in this broken world, applying biblical principles of truthfulness, loyalty, integrity, excellence, hard work, reconciliation, and justice into the marketplace.
The Christian world view teaches us that there are MANY VALUES WORTH DYING FOR: The Word of God which is God’s infallible divine revelation to mankind; Marriage and family, the basic building blocks of society and the safeguards of children; Children and youth, who are the future leaders of our society and nation; Our Christian heritage, which should be passed on from one generation to another; Freedom of thought and Freedom of the press; The sanctity of all human life; Strong moral character, essential to all leadership; Wisdom, to be nurtured in children and pursued by adults; Honor, loyalty, and moral courage, essential to all meaningful relationships and all leadership positions; Patriotism for our God-fearing nation, honoring our Veteran heroes, and preserving our nation’s heritage; Promoting justice for all people, and upholding the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
As you enter the New Year, remember the verse from I John 3:1: How great is the love that the Father has lavished on us.” Rejoice that the Savior of the world has come, the incomparable gift of the Heavenly Father to all mankind. Make a difference this Christmas season by giving your heart and your gifts to others. Make it a priority to support your church, then consider the Asservo Project that rescues kids from human trafficking and rebuilds their lives, or give a financial gift to a single mom, an unemployed person, or a person going through a divorce. This Christmas, my wife and I gave some rabbits and chickens to two poor families overseas through Heifer International. We will never miss the money, but it sure made us feel good that we were able to hopefully change the lifestyle of two overseas poor families. Giving to others makes you feel good, and it teaches your children and/or your grandchildren the Christian values of love and compassion for others. It doesn’t matter whether you are 8 or 80, you can be a vital part of God’s eternal kingdom, and make a difference in this world.
And remember, Jesus Christ is our hope, He gives us a Creed to Live By, and Values to Die For.