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December 30, 2012

In this issue: The Disneyfication of Christianity by Steve Klein | Jesus as King by Bobby L. Graham | The Peace of God by Steven F. Deaton

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Disneyfication of Christianity

Take a story, any story whether it is fact or fiction, and turn it over to Disney cartoonists. What's the result? A full length feature film with animated characters, catchy silly songs, and a feel good ending. If the story was originally historical, most of the real history will be purged out of the cartoon version and replaced with a politically correct version bereft of any real moral or spiritual depth. (The Pocahontas movie is a good example of this). By the time Disney finishes telling a story, the DVD's sell for $19.95, the story characters are mass produced as cartoon toys, and their images are printed on t-shirts, key chains, sippy-cups and pajamas that are sold by the millions. The entire process could be called Disneyfication.

Theologian Don Cupitt has said that "Christmas is the Disneyfication of Christianity." It's a good description of what mankind has done with the story of Christ's birth. It is as if Disney cartoonists have taken the real story and turned it into a show for the purpose of light entertainment. Multitudes are moved by a song about a little drummer boy visiting baby Jesus as He lay in a manger, not realizing that the account is entirely fictional. Nativity scenes depicting three wise men visiting the Babe in a manger are also without much Scriptural support, yet such scenes are prominently displayed in households around the world. (Note that, in Matthew 2:1, 11, an unspecified number of wise men visit the "young Child" Jesus in a "house.) The phrase "Peace on Earth" is printed on greeting cards and posters and written in lights, but no one seems to know much about the peace that Christ gives or why it is needed by men on earth. Everyone knows that Mary had a Baby in Bethlehem, and some may realize that the Baby is the Son of God, but how many have really considered the significance of the virgin birth or the real purpose of Jesus' incarnation? Yet sadly, this inaccurate and shallow view of the birth of Christ is all that Christianity is to some people.

Christmas is truly the cartoon version of Christianity. Christmas makes Christianity into a light hearted story, retold for the sake of entertainment. The real story of Jesus' birth and its meaning, and its place in the larger story of the redemption of mankind, gets lost in superficiality and tarnished by commercialism.

While misguided men are turning the birth of our Savior into a caricature of Christianity, let His disciples remember these truths:

Jesus Christ became a human. He existed "in the form of God" before He came to this earth "in the likeness of men" (Philippians 2:6-7). His human birth in Bethlehem was not the beginning of His existence. The prophet Micah had prophesied that from Bethlehem one would come forth "to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting" (Micah 5:2).

The incarnation of Christ is a key part of God's plan for man's redemption, but it is only a part. It wasn't enough for Jesus to merely come to earth. He came for a purpose. He came to redeem men. "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons" (Galatians 4:4-5). Pretending that the birth of Christ is all there is to Christianity is a little bit like pretending that all there is to catching a big fish is putting a lure on your fishing line. There is much more to the story!

Jesus became human in order to have a body to sacrifice for humanity. "Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: 'Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you have prepared for me.'" (Hebrews 10:5). "We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ . . ." (Hebrews 10:10).

Jesus provided peace and redemption on the cross, not in the manger. He "made peace through the blood of His cross" (Col. 1:20). "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7).

In doing research for this article, I did an internet search for "The significance of Christmas to Christians." The first website I found was Here's the search engine synopsis of the website: "Learn the true meaning of Christmas. Find answers, music, games, coloring pages, Christmas movie reviews and more." Should the birth of Christ really then be packaged into something called Christmas to be experienced in music, games and coloring pages? Is it something that should be celebrated one day a year through giving gifts and senseless human traditions? Or rather, shouldn't the birth of Christ be something that we appreciate every day as one important piece of God's beautiful eternal plan to redeem man? Don't let the Disney version of the story of Jesus rob you of knowing the greatest story ever told. ~

Steve Klein

Jesus as King

To speak of Jesus as King is, first of all, to convey the idea of His dominion, authority, or royal sovereignty. His position is His by divine right, because He is the One whom the Father intended to serve in that office, as indicated by the prophets and the New Testament writers like Matthew and Luke, who presented His royal pedigree in their genealogies.

Jesus is a special kind of King—a benevolent King, as taught again by the prophets and the apostles. He is a King like Melchizedek, in that He also serves simultaneously as both King and High Priest (Zech. 6:13). This is to say that His reign is a mediatorial reign—one in which He has placed Himself in the gap as mediator between God and man to superintend and to serve the needs of man by representing God, as no one else can do. In this regard He became the sacrifice acceptable to God and offered Himself for us, ruling over us in love for our everlasting benefit.

His reign is unlike that of earthly monarchs because it did not derive its source or basis from earthly beings or actions (Jn. 18:36). No advancing army with carnal weapons, no wealth or power founded on earthly considerations, and no political stratagems employing trickery or flattery had any role in establishing His kingdom, advancing it, or defending it. Instead of being of this kind, it is of the Father’s doing because of His marvelous mercy planned to bring about eternal fellowship with Him for the saved. In both its origin and maintenance, His kingdom is “not of this world.”

In Jesus’ conversation with Governor Pilate in Jn. 18:33-38 the Lord made clear some very important principles concerning His kingdom:

1. He is the King (vv. 33-34).

2. His kingdom is not of this world (v. 36).

3. The truth that He and His emissaries (apostles) declared became the law of the kingdom (“To this end have I been born and to this end am I come into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” V. 37).

4. Anyone willing to submit to Him can be His subject, or a citizen in His kingdom (“Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” V. 38).

In this final principle, we observe the voluntary nature of citizenship in the kingdom of Christ. Those willing, believing, repenting, and submitting in baptism enter into the kingdom. Likewise, those daily crucifying themselves remain His subjects.

Am I loyal to Christ the King above all other loyalties?

Do I daily show my allegiance to Him?

Our song “O Lord, Our Lord” depicts His Kingly majesty, His mediatorial reign, and our beneficial submission. In this prayer-song we voice our plea to this wonderful, and exalted One seeking to mediate our cause, “…forgive me of my sinning, and help me daily to look to Thee above.”

Bobby L. Graham

The Peace of God

Most people enjoy peace in their lives. Turmoil is avoided, if possible. People go on vacations, go to spas, watch movies and read books in search of peace. However, few people find true peace.

There is a peace that only God can provide. It is not a peace like that of the world, temporary and shallow. It is lasting and deep (cf. John 14:27). God can provide peace between Himself and man. One who is in the world is an enemy of God, thus at war with Him (James 4:4). The one who humbles himself before God will find peace with Him (Acts 10:36).

Peace between former adversaries is also possible. The Jew and Gentile were once separated, but in Christ Jesus they are at peace (Ephesians 2:11-17).

Man can have peace within himself, knowing he has peace with God and is striving to live peaceably with all men (cf. Romans 12:18). The peace offered by God comes only through Jesus Christ, "For He Himself is our peace" (Ephesians 2:14). Too, the peace of God is found in one body. "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful" (Colossians 3:15). This means that those who seek peace outside of Christ will not find it. They may find some kind of peace, but not the true peace of God. Likewise, those who seek peace outside of the one body, the church, will not find it (cf. Colossians 1:18).

Are you a part of that one body in Christ? If you have not been baptized you are not. The body of Christ is entered the same way Christ is entered. "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body" (1 Corinthians 12:13). "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27). Do you have the peace of God in your life? Contact us for further study. ~

Steven F. Deaton

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