The message of Christmas is the world, human life, is a dark place, and the more you look for the solutions and the more you think about it, the darker it gets. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Russell and a tremendous amount of respect for Huxley and all those guys who would press you and say, ‘The world is a dark place. Let’s not get out from under it. Don’t you feel it?’
The message of Christmas is … Unless God has sent his Son into the world, unless God has revealed himself through the Son who he sent into the world, there is no light for the world. Huxley would say the same thing. Russell would say the same thing. That’s the message of Christmas. Right here. Don’t you see? Don’t you understand why people do run off to the mystics, they do run off to the politicians, they do run off to the therapists, they do run off to all these people trying to get meaning in life? But there is no light any other place. That’s the message of Christmas. You know what that means?
It means, first of all, if you do not know God personally, if you have no confidence that Christmas really happened, if you just think it’s a nice idea, but you don’t really know that it really happened, you don’t know that God really sent his Son into the world to live and to die on earth for us, if you don’t know that, don’t you understand there’s really no way you should take Christmas and use it the way we do to make chirpy, groundless little statements about how if we just hold hands everything will be all right? If we just get together in a circle and love each other everything will be all right. You can’t do that.
Here’s why: Christmas won’t let you do that. Christianity is not sentimental at all. Every other kind of non-Christian philosophy tries to console you like this: They say, ‘Buck up. Things aren’t that bad. In every cloud there is a silver lining.’ Christianity is far more realistic than any non-Christian philosopher or any non-Christian is really prepared to be. Christianity would never say, ‘Oh, things aren’t so bad.’ Christianity says, ‘Things are just as bad as the worst and most pessimistic analyst says they are. Nevertheless …’
You see? Nevertheless … Christians will not be chirpy. There’s no sentimentality. There’s no nostalgia about the message of Christmas. Not at all. It says, ‘The world is dark.’ Human life is a dark place. That’s where the comfort is, if God has actually done what Christmas has always said he had done. Apart from that, every smart person knows there is no hope. There is no light. Don’t you see? Unless Christmas is true there is no light at all and there’s no comfort, so stop being chirpy. That’s what Christmas says.
When it says stop being chirpy, what you can do is you can put it something like this: If there’s a God, if he sent Jesus Christ into the world to die for us, if he was born as a baby and he died for us, and he rose triumphant over the grave, and he is Pastor of the heavens, and now he is seated at the right hand of God the Father, and he’s ruling all things until he puts everything under his feet, and someday we’re going to rule and reign with him … If that’s true, there’s light and there’s comfort. If that’s not true, there’s no comfort, there’s no light.
- Tim Keller
Words found in December 16, 1990 Sermon, “Light Has Dawned”