The classic hymn “O Holy Night” gives a glimpse into the importance of Christmas within human history. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, a man whose ministry and death altered the course of humanity, beginning in the realms of Judeo and Western civilizations and branching to every nation.
If you’re Christian or not, it’s undeniable that Jesus’ message resonates with billions of people over many centuries. His birth was an earthquake in the structure of human calendars — He reordered time.
Jesus’ words speak of redemption and rebirth. Jesus was a revolutionary, unafraid to rebuke authorities who valued the letter of the law ahead of its spirit. Jesus was a healer who cared for the sick, the poor, the orphaned, the forlorn and forgotten. Jesus was compassionate and warned of the hypocrisy of judging others.
O Holy night! The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
“O Holy Night,” was the first song ever broadcast on radio, a fitting, majestic milestone yet of a carol about the humble, quiet advent of Jesus. This powerful figure arrived in the most unpropitious circumstances, lying in the straw of an animal barn under a cloud of bastardly suspicion. This was a savior, fully man and fully God who Christians believe ushered in the redemption of man from sin and death.
American minister and abolitionist John Dwight translated the lyrics of “O Holy Night,” into English from the original French poem, particularly entranced by this stanza:
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
The Western notions of human rights, self-governance, and slavery abolition spring from the words and actions of Jesus. While earthly rulers sought conquest, power and ruthlessness, Jesus modeled sacrifice, humility and forgiveness. He valued communion with His father over the mindless bustle of worldly gain, showing us the inherent dignity and worth of every soul, regardless of their station in human-engineered pecking orders.
We humans pride ourselves on our ability to reason. Reasonable means rational. But it’s not reasonable to love your enemies, bless those that curse you, do good to those that hate you and pray for those who persecute you. But that’s what Jesus taught, a similar message from leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela. It’s a message that will heal our fractured country and world.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger
In all our trials born to be our friend
He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger
Behold your King; before Him lowly bend
Under the Christian faith, sin is forgiven if you confess and completely forsake. Jesus taught “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Even as Jesus taught grace and liberation, He also spoke of sin and the need for Divine Justice. He taught us to love sinners but hate sin. That is the Christian ethos of redemption, yet sadly Western notions of Judeo Christianity are crumbling. We don’t hate sin anymore — in fact we celebrate it. This is a recipe for societal collapse.
John Newton, author of “Amazing Grace” was a former slave trader (and former slave himself) who experienced a miraculous conversion to Christianity and devoted his life later to abolishing slavery. But under today’s virulent cancel culture, Newton would be stoned before he could write his song that set the world on fire with God’s love.
Abby Johnson, a former senior Planned Parenthood clinic director, facilitated the deaths of thousands of innocent babies. Through God’s transformational grace, she comprehended the harm she’d wrought and resigned in 2009. Johnson is now a pro-life activist, proving it’s possible to turn away from grievous sin. Johnson is far from alone, with all of us needing redemption, forgiveness and Divine grace.
How we shape 2023 depends on our worldview. If we view others as Jesus taught, the world will be a more honest, loving, compassionate and peaceful place. We’ll look at others, no matter their broken circumstances, with compassion and clarity.
For those suffering, we won’t hold back ways to rejuvenate their souls. If we enter 2023 lowly bending before God in a posture of humility, we’ll freely give and receive the grace and mercy Jesus taught.
Carrie Sheffield is the Tony Blankley Fellow for American Exceptionalism at The Steamboat Institute.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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