Redefining Christmas (Part 2)

As Nik Ripken continues this series on rediscovering the Biblical account of the Christmas narrative, he challenges listeners to ask “Imagine you were a parent, or Jesus, in this story”. Understanding the context of Christmas allows us to discover how we apply the birth of Jesus to our lives and theology.

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In this episode of the Witness and Persecution podcast, Nik Ripken and Anthony Ball discuss the biblical story of Christmas and how it should impact our understanding of persecution. They begin by sharing Nik’s recent experience of being bitten by a spider and the subsequent infection and hospitalization he had to endure. They then delve into the topic of redefining Christmas through the eyes of believers in persecution.

Unpacking the Christmas Story

Nik Ripken dives into redefining Christmas through the lens of believers in persecution. He emphasizes the need to understand the biblical narrative of Jesus’ birth and how it differs from how we often celebrate and worship during the holiday season. Nik encourages listeners to reflect on the profound impact the Christmas story would have had on the parents in Bethlehem and the surrounding territories. He poses thought-provoking questions, such as how parents would feel towards Jesus in this narrative, considering the loss of their own children due to Herod’s orders.

Lessons from Unwise Wise Men

Nik discusses the role of the wise men in the Christmas story and highlights the importance of seeking God’s wisdom. He draws attention to the fact that the wise men, though knowledgeable, were unwise in their dealings with Herod and the religious leaders of the time. This leads to a discussion on the significance of discerning where God is working and for how long, as persecutors can use this information to target believers. By examining the actions of the wise men, listeners are encouraged to reflect on their pursuit of wisdom and discernment in their faith journey.

Writing Ourselves into the Text

Nik encourages listeners to imagine themselves as characters in the Christmas story, particularly as parents in Bethlehem. He emphasizes the unimaginable horror and grief that would have been experienced by these parents, knowing that their children were killed because of Jesus’ birth.

Challenging Traditional Narratives

Nik addresses the common practice of combining the narratives of the wise men from Matthew 2 and the shepherds from Luke 2. He highlights the importance of recognizing the distinct timelines and events in each account. By challenging traditional narratives, Nik encourages listeners to engage with the text and ask questions that deepen their understanding of the Christmas story. He emphasizes the need to be aware of the historical and cultural context to grasp the true significance of Jesus’ birth.

Lessons for Today

The episode concludes with a call to action for listeners to reevaluate their understanding of Christmas and its implications for their witness as believers. By learning from the experiences of believers in persecution, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the sacrifice Jesus made and the challenges faced by those who follow him. Nik Ripken reminds listeners that the Christmas story is not just a historical event but a powerful reminder of the cost of discipleship and the need to lay our lives on the altar for God’s purposes.

This episode serves as a reminder that Christmas is not just a time of celebration, but an opportunity to deepen our commitment to Christ and share his message with the world.