When you hear the word “scandal”, what comes to mind? Lots of folks may think of Bernie Madoff, or the current political scandal swarming around presidential candidate Herman Cain, or the sex scandal targeting former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky and Penn State University. As a culture we thrive on scandals, especially those that turn into trials so we can lap up all the courtroom drama and the 24/7 talking heads coverage and analysis. Stories about scandals, real or concocted, plaster the pulp on the tabloid shelves in the checkout line at the grocery store. They call them “scandal sheets” because their pages are full of gossip and scandalous stories.
I originally posted this on December 20, 2011
When we think about Christmas we certainly don’t think about scandal. Christmas today is all about celebrations and bright lights and traffic jams and parties.
But if we don’t admit and acknowledge the Christmas scandal, we will never fully understand what Christmas is truly all about. In fact without our scandal we wouldn’t have Christmas at all. It’s certainly not comfortable to think of “scandal” associated with Christmas. It’s even worse to think that Christmas came because our scandal caused it.
Let’s go back to God’s Word and see how this scandal developed (Bear with me here and read the whole story. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed):
Genesis 3:1-10 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’ ” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God (here it comes) knowing good and evil.”
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.
They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees in the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
These verses in Genesis tell the Christmas story as well as Matthew or Luke. Adam and Eve had it made. All the food they could eat, a garden paradise of perfection for a home, unfettered fellowship with God. Every need met. Then they blew it. They disobeyed God. The Bible has a word for that. It’s called sin. The scandal arrives. We became a race of sinners.1 Adam and Eve sinned.
When we sin, many of us try our best to do what Adam and Eve did–hide from God. Oh, we don’t jump into the trees. We create handy euphemisms for sin. Congressmen cheat on their wives, then when they get caught they say, “I made a mistake.” No you didn’t, Senator. You committed sin. We have our own ways of softening the blow when we disobey God. We claim a personality disorder caused us to sin. We say we’re emotionally impaired. There’s something wrong in our genetic code. We didn’t know right from wrong. Our family history causes us to hate a particular race or religious group.
No matter how you try to shift the blame, you always come back to this: you disobeyed God and that is sin.
In part II we’ll dissect this thing called “self” and see how it contributes to our Christmas Scandal. We’ll also discover how our Scandal created the need for Christmas.
1. Christmas From The Backside, J. Ellsworth Kalas, ©2003, Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN., pg. 15
Note: The inspiration for this series came from the book, Christmas From The Backside, by J. Ellsworth Kalas.