Tony Elder

Tony Elder

I have been enjoying listening to Christmas music on the radio lately … for the most part. Along with the classic versions of familiar songs, there are more modern renditions by current artists. Some of those I thoroughly enjoy; others I tolerate; and there have been a couple of them that irritated me to the point that I finally decided to switch to another station until they were finished. I don’t mind a modern or jazzed-up version of an old, familiar tune, but these had gone so far that the melody of the song was no longer recognizable. I am no music expert and each person has his own preference, but it just seemed to me like a jumbled mess.

We need to be careful of those who do a similar reinterpreting of the Christmas story itself, as well as with other aspects of the account of Jesus’ life, ministry, and teachings. We may even need to make sure we’re not guilty of doing it ourselves out of a desire to be more relevant to the modern world and its way of thinking. Some may simply choose to emphasize certain aspects of Christ’s birth or retell that sacred story in creative ways that communicate it better to our current generation. However, there are those who go so far as to deny some of the essential truths related to this event, such as the miraculous nature of Christ’s birth. If someone removes the concept of the virgin birth, it doesn’t just tweak the tune or modernize the song — it changes everything. The main melody is gone. The virgin birth gets to the heart of who Jesus is and why He came into the world. Denying that truth produces a ripple effect that carries through to change the way one views Jesus’ life, mission, and especially His sacrificial death on the cross.

It’s not just Jesus’ birth, but His whole life and teachings that are being reinterpreted and reworked by some skillful craftsmen today. Again, I have no problem with seeking to make the truths about Jesus understandable to our modern generation. We need to help others see the relevance of the gospel in our modern world and how it applies to our lives today. However, we don’t need to alter the essential truths in order to make them more palatable to people, to avoid offending certain groups, or to make them fit with our more “enlightened and informed” intellects.

There are those who are leaving out the strong and frequent chords Jesus strummed about sin, condemnation, judgment, and everlasting punishment. Instead of the balance and harmony of love and justice, forgiveness and accountability, acceptance and holy living, heaven and hell, they are transforming His tune into a one-sided jumbled mess of a soft, mushy, tolerant, sentimental song of what they call love. They are altering the picture of Jesus from our Divine rescuer who swooped in to provide a way for us to escape the righteous wrath of God which we deserved to the picture of a jolly Santa Claus who encourages us to be good children, but who accepts us just the way we are whether we pay attention to Him or not, and who will always bring us a good present instead of leaving us with a lump of coal in our stocking. The powerful love song of our Redeemer is being transformed into a silly ditty without sin, truth, or consequences – where we can live however we want and be accepted by Jesus.

So if you’re listening to folks who are removing the essentials and changing the melody of the gospel message, I strongly recommend you switch to a different station.

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The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at revtelder@aol.com.

Editor

I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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