In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
“Doctrine doesn’t matter; what matters is that you live a good life” is a sentiment I often hear around this time of year. The Christmas season brings people into the orbit of church through carol services and various events. But as the new year comes, they head off again for another cycle of the year, until next their paths cross.
If that’s you, can I encourage you to give the doctrine of Christmas a second thought for three reasons.
Firstly, believing “Doctrine doesn’t matter; it’s all about how we live” is itself a statement of Doctrine; and inherent in that statement are all sorts of beliefs both about the nature of God, the nature of humanity and even the very meaning of life itself.
Secondly, Christmas says those beliefs are wrong. If God created us simply to be unthinking machines for ‘good works’, then Christmas would be the celebration of a wonderful instructor. Someone to tell us how to get the job of good living done better than ever. Instead, Christmas celebrates the birth of life himself.
Human beings have a tendency to wear themselves thin, and the irony is that we can do that as much in our pursuit of ‘good’ as of evil. Both bring us back to a place of spiritual thinness. Christmas says the answer is not to push Doctrine to the back of your mind and to try harder to live better.
Instead, Christmas says, thirdly and finally, that if you want to know lasting happiness in life, see that the source of life has come to us and invest time in getting to know him.
Above all, that is what churches are. Ordinary people gathering to meet the source of life in worship and word. Over Christmas, I hope you have caught a small glimpse of what that might be like. So why not come for a few weeks more and make some space on your Sunday morning to meet with life himself.