Of all the names attributed to Jesus in Isaiah 9:6, Everlasting Father intrigues me the most because it’s the one I understand the least. How can Jesus the Messiah, the second person of the Godhead, be called Everlasting Father?
It would be just wonderful if we could all agree on the generic God and live happily ever after. But God doesn’t give us that option. Instead, he gave us Jesus. It isn’t enough to believe in the generic God. But it is enough to believe in Jesus.
Immanuel. God with us. This is good news, right? In actuality, we often jump to the good news of Christmas without giving proper attention to the bad news. As a result, we blunt the mercy of the gospel and the magnitude of our praise.
My relationship with God went through a fundamental shift then, and the way I see the world has never been the same. As I struggle off and on with depression, I live through seasons of lighter and darker shades of gray. Instead of rose-colored glasses, I see the world through a dimming and dulling filter. But even as the world has turned gray, it has also become more complex.
Bennett Omalu's story, first told in GQ magazine in 2009, is on the big screen this Christmas. Concussion stars Will Smith as an optimistic immigrant yearning to be accepted by Western elites, including Julian Bailes (Alec Baldwin), the neurosurgeon who first believed Omalu. Omalu recently spoke with Christianity Today about the Christian faith that sustained him as he waited for that acceptance.
Christmas is the biggest celebration on the calendar. But we know not what we celebrate. Church leaders are in a major bind with this one. They have to compete with the usual rivals—Santa Claus, TV specials, and generic holiday cheer that can be felt without taking the family to a church. This year, Christian leaders face the allure of the new Star Wars. In a tossup between the baby Jesus and Luke Skywalker, I’m not sure most Christians would bet on the Christ Child over the Jedi Fighter.
As the church, we don’t simply have a social or religious interest in conversion. Our understanding of conversion is essential to our concept of Christianity. Yet the Bible says that people throughout history have known God. How is this relationship possible? In fact, “conversion” isn’t considered civil in our politically correct world—it smacks of intolerance.
God has always been happy. He will always be happy. And He is predominantly happy now. Sin is a temporary condition. So the causes for God’s unhappiness are themselves temporary. His primary identity is as a happy God, not an unhappy one.
Nazareth to Bethlehem was a long journey. Weeks had passed, and the people of the cities and camps where they lodged along the way didn’t know much about Joseph and Mary. They could see that he was earnest and driven and that she was pregnant and about to burst.
This year Hanukkah came and went before most signs or sounds of Christmas started appearing. Unlike some years when the two holidays overlap on the calendar, this year gave me an opportunity to reflect more than usual about this often-overshadowed Jewish holiday.