The Other Side of Christmas
The celebration and wonder of Christ’s birth presents images of peace, innocence, and hope. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
Outside the physical realm of shepherds and wise men, a spiritual veil is lifted for us see a chorus of angels bursting forth in song. They rejoiced over the arrival of the Christ child. They were celebrating a great victory in the heavenly realm. Jesus, the promised Messiah, had come to save the world from the tyranny of death and sin.
This is the other side of Christmas. It is a spiritual realm that can also cast terrifying images.
Picture an enormous red dragon appearing from its gloomy lair. A jeweled crown adorns each of its seven heads and ten horns stick out from its scaly skin. A long, powerful tail sweeps across the heavens causing massive destruction.
Swooping down, the dragon appears in front of a woman clothed with the sun. She is giving birth and crying out in pain. Caught in the most vulnerable of positions, unable to defend herself, the terrified woman can only watch as the dragon awaits the arrival of the new baby. Hungrily, the dragon licks it lips in anticipation, ready to devour the baby the moment it is born.
Are you familiar with this Christmas story?
In one of the most dramatic rescues that rivals any suspense movie, the child is snatched away at the last moment and a great war ensues in the heavens. The great dragon is defeated and hurled to the earth. But the story doesn’t end there. The dragon pursues the mother of the child and she is rescued by the wings of a great eagle and natural forces.
I can only imagine what parents would think if they saw their Sunday School children re-enact the 12th chapter from the book of Revelation at the next Christmas pageant. Instead of three wise men, young boys could be an enormous red dragon. Instead of the pristine Mary holding a baby doll wrapped in swaddling clothes, the young girl would give birth in front of a snarling dragon then sprint away in terror from the ferocious beast.
Revelation 12 is not a reenactment of the Christmas story. The child is Jesus Christ and the red dragon is the devil, but the woman is not the virgin Mary.
“From this it is clear that the woman represents the church, God’s people on earth.”Wayne Mueller
A Real and Intense Battleground
A spiritual veil was lifted for the shepherds to see and hear a chorus of angels. Another spiritual veil is lifted for the church to see an ongoing spiritual battle between the heavenly hosts and demonic forces. It is a real and intense battleground. A dragon seeks to conquer the church and squelch its work. It’s not a battle for victory, but to devour souls whom Christ has set apart to proclaim Christ’s victory over sin and death.
This image seems to fit with a believer’s call to be fitted with the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, and the sword of truth. A soul in Christ can never be devoured, but it can be fooled and distracted by the world.
The past year has been a struggle, but believers in Christ ought not to expect life to be any easier in 2021.
Though a spiritual battle in the heavenly realm continues, opportunities will abound to spread the Word about what God has done for us. Believers are targets, but Christ promises to protect and embolden those who remain in his grasp.
Prayer: “O Lord, we ask you to bless us this Christmas with repentant hearts and a Christ-centered focus. Rekindle our joy and wonder. Let nothing rob us of your peace or deprive us of precious time spent pondering your grace.
Be with those who are enduring sorrow or undergoing difficult trials. Comfort us all with knowledge of your certain return to take us home to heaven. Keep us spiritually vigilant and protect us from the distractions of life that turn our attention away from your promises. Use us to proclaim the light of your saving grace so the world may know the saving hope that only you can give.
In your name we pray, Amen.
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