Security Blankets and Sufficient Grace
In the 1965 Charlie Brown Christmas special, Linus begins to recite from Luke chapter 2. As he quotes the angelic announcement in the passage, the gift of God’s grace is revealed in the birth of the Christ child, signifying that we because could never ascend to God, God descended to us. As he is doing this, Linus does the unthinkable – he drops is security blanket.
Linus was never without that security blanket. Artist Charles Schultz gives us something worth pondering here:
The gospel frees us to drop our security blankets.
It’s worth noting that the birth narrative of Christ in Luke 2 does’t being with “once upon a time”. Christ is not a legend and Christmas cannot be reduced to nostalgia an sentimentality. Christmas is awesome in the truest sense of the word.
That first Christmas, and the 4 weeks of advent that narrow our gaze toward it, are truly a cause for awe when we pause to reflect on it.
The Incarnation presents the fullness of God in the fullness of man and it proclaims the gospel which is the fullness of God given for the fullness of man.
In all other world religions, a prophet arrives and teaches people how to make their way up to God in the hopes of finding eternal life. In Christianity, God comes all the way down in grace to meets His own demands so He can give us eternal life.
To borrow from Calvin, “Christ, who ‘is in heaven,’ clothed Himself in our flesh, so that by stretching out His brotherly hand, He raises us to heaven with Himself.”
Our need for security blankets began in the Garden. Our parents chose the glory of self rule over living to the glory of God under His rule. Sin created a glory problem.
Instead of enjoying freedom living to the glory of God, sin created the bondage of being god. In order to live for our own glory, we need to a high degree of control over people and things so we can get (and keep) the glory we’re after.
Our inability to control life itself means that our glory problem also introduces a peace problem.
We grip on our security blankets. Instead of living free to enjoy good things, we define ourselves by them, we bind ourselves to them – we worship them. We can’t afford to lose them. Our reputations, our careers or our successes. Our health, our family, our relationships or our social game. Our physical appearance, our emotional well being or our religious piety. All these things, which are intended to be good things, end up being ultimate things – our security blankets.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!”
The angelic announcement invites us to return glory to where it belongs – to God in the highest.
God rescued us in grace so that by returning glory to Him in the highest, we will have peace. The gospel liberates our hearts from trusting in things smaller than God to give us the peace that is only found in God.
Notice how this angelic proclamation is not only announcing Christ’s birth – it’s also predicting His death. How can a holy God promise peace to undeserving sinners? He’s coming to die for undeserving sinners. Amazing. Grace.
Notice who gets the peace: “Peace on earth among those with whom He is pleased” Some translations read, “on whom His favour rests.” How do we, who are born wanting to be our own god, please God? How do we qualify to have this peace, favour and grace rest on us?
That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
If you reverse the theology of grace on display in the incarnation, you end up with this: First you’re good, then God sees that you’re good and is pleased, then God gives you the gift of His peace, favour and grace. You know who gives according to that system? SANTA CLAUS.
Christ qualified us by coming, living, dying, rising and handing His righteousness to us.
United to Christ, God is well pleased with you.
United to Christ, God’s favour is resting on you.
Angels sang, grace came down and shepherds were blown away because the God of creation humbled Himself and clothed Himself in the dirt of His creation to redeem and restore His creation.
Christ came to us to solve our glory problem and our peace problem. God wrapped His gift of grace in swaddling cloths in a manger & unwrapped that gift in the grave clothes of the empty tomb.
You can listen to the KW Redeemer advent series here.