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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Rev. Jesse Jackson That's Not What Christmas is All About

A very discerning friend shared this article with me a couple of days ago. It represents the type of thinking that urban Christians really need to start rethinking. I have included the entire article, and my response below it. 

Jackson Shares Views on Christians and Christmas
The Los Angeles Sentinel - Dec 29, 2010 at 11:51 PM
© The Los Angeles Sentinel

Here's the article.

By Cora Jackson-Fossett
Sentinel Religion Editor

The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson is urging Christians to explore the real meaning of Christmas and take action to improve conditions in Urban America.

He delivered the passionate message on December 20 during a visit with the editors of the L.A. Sentinel as he prepared for convening an Economic Summit in New York City in January.

"I see more and more people going to church, but that doesn't mean more people have faith and substance.  During this season, so many of us are worshipping Santa, not Christ," said Rev. Jackson. 

"Christmas has nothing to do with Santa Claus, the culture of St. Nicholas, reindeer and electric lights. Christmas is about a people, who are oppressed under Roman government, looking forward to an Emancipator - a kind of Martin Luther King or Caesar Chavez, upon whom shoulders governments will rest.  An Emancipator who will help the poor, delivers the needy, and heals the brokenhearted."

Comparing the main figures of the Christmas story with today's times, Rev. Jackson described Mary as a freedom fighter. "When Herod sought kill all the first-born, Mary didn't submit. She and Joseph went to Egypt and made Jesus a refugee until He was 12.  Jesus grew up poor, under Roman oppression.  Today, 45 million Americans are in poverty.  How do we treat that? Jesus was an at-risk child. How do we treat at-risk children today?"

Rev. Jackson recommended that congregations mobilize and work together to fight oppression.  "Churches must act en mass, fighting the Herods of our times and Roman governments of our times until righteousness and justice come. 

"In the past, ministers were revolutionaries fighting injustice. They fought illegal segregation with Dr. King and marched to fight for the right to vote.  But our mission is not accomplished because in many areas, businesses are closed, houses are in foreclosure, and we seemed to have adjusted rather than fight back."

Explaining that people who are oppressed must not adjust or get comfortable, Rev. Jackson said, "One thing works in slavery and that's adjusting. Instead, we need a plan for reconstruction of urban America. Until there is some plan, we must be restless about unemployment, about housing, and about more black boys in prison than in colleges."

Rev. Jackson concluded by urging Christians not to become only admirers of the cross of Jesus Christ.  "Jesus said to follow Him, pick up the cross. Believers must pick up the cross to fight for justice, peace, fairness, equality.  We must not have silence from the pulpit during these times.  We must have hope and substance to survive these times."''

Here's what the Bible says:

I couldn't agree with Rev. Jackson more that "Christmas has nothing to do with Santa Claus, the culture of St. Nicholas, reindeer and electric lights." But when Rev. Jackson say Jesus was "An Emancipator (like Martin Luther King and Caesar Chavez) who will help the poor, delivers the needy, and heals the brokenhearted," I scratched my head and asked, "Doesn't Rev. Jackson know that Jesus was much more than a social-economic emancipator?"

John the Baptist, whom God sent to announce Jesus' ministry, called Jesus, "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" The writer of Hebrews elaborates, "...when He comes into the world, He says, 'SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME;' Hebrews 10:5. Luke grapples with the indescribable nature of Jesus' advent and purpose with the words "the church of God which He purchased with His own blood."

These biblical passages are proclaiming that Christmas is announcing the historical miracle when God became a man in order to liberate us from our sins by dying for our sins. Amazing, isn't it? But that's the meaning of Christmas. In order to save mankind from our sins, God became a man, and He became a man in order to die in place of man.

With all due respect to Martin Luther King Jr. and Caesar Chavez and their amazing lives, Jesus is more amazing. His work is greater, and He has no parallel in human history. He is God, and history is His story. That is the substance of the Christian faith. Sadly, it is true that many who attend churches don't possess the reality of a faith in Jesus as the God-man who died to save them from their sin.  Yet for all those who know the real meaning of Christmas, they live for Jesus and daily bear their cross to die to this world. True Christians know that because Jesus died for their sins, when they die they will live with Jesus, the King of Kings, forever. Real pastors aren't political revolutionaries (John 18:33-36). They preach the Gospel which is the power of God to rescue sinners from their sin, Satan, and death. They don't fight against flesh and blood (political parties); they wage war against rulers, against world forces of this darkness (Eph 6:10ff). 

My plea to the urban church is that we stop confusing politicians wearing spiritual titles with reverends. Politicians have their place, but they are not substitutes for real spiritual leaders and what they say should never ever be confused with the preaching of the cross of Christ (especially when they distort the Scriptures by ripping them out of context to fit their political agendas). When we get this straight maybe we will see merrier Christmases in our community.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you, for speaking out Pastor Scott!

Christ also admonished his followers to remember that members of the clergy, are human, just like the rest of us, and not to put them on pedestals. That we should listen to them when they preach scripture, but when they err, to question them, and expect honest answers. Christ also warned us to protect the innocent from the wolves in sheep's clothing.

Reverend Jackson should heed your call, perhaps he needs to spend some time in contemplation of the Gospels, and considering Christ's teachings.