If Christmas hadn’t happened

Posted by on Dec 22, 2015 in Blog | 3 comments

A rather harassed looking student popped into my office a while back, claiming a mental block whilst doing an assignment. For some, that’s a permanent condition, but this student is usually pretty diligent, so I was indulgent.

I asked what the assignment was about. ‘We’ve got to discuss the relevance of John 1,’ he said, as though it was a remarkable task. Now while I’m not able to recite all Scripture by heart, this is a familiar passage (‘In the beginning was the word…’ for those of you who never won any prizes for Bible memorization). As we looked at the passage together it screamed relevant, relevant, totally relevant to me, so I asked if the problem was being spoilt for choice. After all, many of our students are training to be preachers, and like most preachers, their problem is invariably an oversupply rather than an undersupply of words!

‘Not really,’ this not to be named student replied. ‘It’s just not saying anything to me. I think my brain is dead from working too hard.’

‘Hardly likely,’ I muttered silently, but was then moved along by an idea of my own.

‘I wonder if the problem isn’t over-familiarity. Perhaps you’ve heard some key Christian truths so often that you’re becoming numbed to their significance.’

This profound comment met with a blank look from the brain-dead student. So I tried the electric shock treatment. ‘Imagine that everything in this passage is untrue. In fact, imagine if the opposite is true. Read the passage negating everything it says, and then see how you feel. So try the opening verse: “In the beginning was no word… just the silence of nothingness… no one to make us… no light to shine in the darkness.” Or jump to verse 14, “There was no Word to become flesh and to dwell among us. There is no sign of love or faithfulness in the Universe, which is only an accidental Universe of meaninglessness…”’

I don’t know if the prodding led to an amazing essay. But it has left me thinking. In a world of increasingly angry atheism, imagine if the sceptics are right. What if we are here as a result of random chance, no intention behind the world’s intricate patterns and order, no one to answer to, no real meaning to our existence? And what if our death signifies only our return to the nothingness from which we came? Imagine…

The heaviness of depression sinks even as I contemplate that barren prospect. And then the Scriptures speak. Their confident, life-defining affirmation is, ‘In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God… Nothing exists that he didn’t make. Life was in him, and that life gives light to everyone… and the darkness can never extinguish it.’ Yes, Christmas really happened.


  1. Hi Brian, I liked this! It made me smile. Good to remember the sheer mind-blowing enormity of what we’re on about. Hope you are enjoying a Perth summer! Cheers, Greg

    • Thanks Greg. It is starting to heat up here… 39 today (sigh). I am hoping you will write a post for this blog on Third Article Theology in the New Year. I will be in touch.

      • Only in Perth can you write “starting” to heat up at 39 degrees. 🙂 Blessings – have a great Christmas.

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