MTL Christmas - Page 68

All of us, for better or for worse, experience the holidays each year. From mid-November to early January, our lives change, bringing many delightful things, but also stress and fatigue. Family tensions (whose house do we go to when?), neverending to-do lists, financial difficulties, unrealistic expectations—reasons for unhappiness abound. Is it possible to find genuine happiness during the Christmas season, even in the midst of the pressures? Yes. True happiness—the kind Jesus offers—is at the heart of what Christmas is all about! Consider the angel’s message to the shepherds at Jesus’ birth: “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10). The Greek adjective translated “great” here is megas—this isn’t just news, but good news of “megajoy.” It’s the best news there has ever been or ever will be. What characterizes this good news is deep, everlasting joy for those who receive it. The Contemporary English Version renders the verse this way: “good news for you, which will make everyone happy.” Isaiah 52:7 says, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness” (ESV). Here God tells us directly that our mission is bringing everyone the “good news of happiness” about Jesus. If the message we share and model at Christmastime and all year long doesn’t include happiness, then it contradicts God’s direct words in Isaiah 52:7. The gospel offers an exchange of misery-generating sin for happiness-giving righteousness provided by Jesus Himself—joy incarnate, happiness in human flesh. The gospel is happy-making! Each stanza of “O Come, All Ye Faithful” contains sentiments of true happiness: “joyful and triumphant,” “sing in exultation,” “born this happy morning.” Joy, exultation and happiness are proper responses to Jesus. A gospel not characterized by overwhelming gladness isn’t the gospel. A Christmas without a deep, God-given happiness isn’t reflecting the good news of Jesus. So how do we experience true happiness during this season? It starts with a godly perspective, a right way of looking at life. 68 MTL Magazine / www.mtlmagazine.com