What’s so Merry about Christmas? Truth.

by Sarah Abbey

During the Christmas season I usually spend time contemplating what makes this time of year merry. As a Christian, my focus is on a baby born in a manger nearly 2000 years ago. What bearing does it have on merrymaking that a child was born in poverty so long ago?

One word in particular keeps coming to mind. That word is truth. John’s Gospel tells us that the child is God, the Word made flesh, who came full of grace and truth.[1] Years later when the child grew up, he announced that the truth he proclaimed would bring freedom.[2]

Truth brings freedom? Do we really believe this? The extent to which we lie indicates that we actually believe truth brings bondage. Why do children lie about stealing a cookie, politicians about their marital infidelity, or loved ones about taking illegal substances? We lie because we believe the truth won’t set us free. If we tell the truth things will go bad for us. We’ll lose the freedom we desire. We run from truth.

There are also times we tell the truth and experience the bondage we fear. Telling the truth has led to the loss of jobs, freedom, and even life. It’s hard to believe truth brings liberty when our experience so often tells us a different story. Truth can be painful.

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Add to this our relativistic understanding of truth. In our postmodern and pluralistic culture, there is no absolute truth; rather, truth is up to the individual. What’s true for you might not be true for me. The only absolute truth is that there are no absolute truths.

Let’s face it. Truth is not popular. Look at two examples from the holiday season that highlight this. First, why is there such a push to take “Christ” out of Christmas? I believe it is because the basis of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ is a unique and absolute truth claim. If Jesus is the only way to God and heaven, that excludes all other ways. This is not a politically or culturally correct belief. Who is Jesus, and who are Christians, to tell others that their understanding of truth is wrong?

A second example comes from the 1994 rendition of Miracle on 34th Street. Bryan Bedford, the attorney defending Santa Claus, asks the judge, “Is it better to tell a lie that brings a smile, or a truth that brings a tear?” with the clear implication that a happy falsehood is better than a sad truth…


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