Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ by Timothy Keller
I came across Timothy Keller’s new 2016 book while searching for his books at the library since he is one of my favorite Christian authors. I read a few of his books (Counterfeit Gods, Every Good Endeavor, The Meaning of Marriage), and some are next on my list (Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering, Making Sense of God). I also heard him preach once at Redeemer Presbyterian Church while visiting New York last April. I appreciate how clear Timothy Keller is in both his books and sermons. My goal was to read Hidden Christmas before Christmas Day to prepare my heart with the true reason for the season, but ironically, I got super busy with work and the holidays and then sick at the start of Winter Break. I picked up this book again on New Year’s Eve and finished all 142 pages in one hour. It was a great and easy read!
In Hidden Christmas, Timothy Keller does an excellent job of expositing the details of the nativity story and explaining the true purpose of Christmas. This book is clear about the Gospel and our response. It is interesting that once a year at Christmas, people around the world celebrate a major secular holiday at the same time that Christians celebrate a Christian holy day, but sadly for all different reasons. Songs like “Joy to the world! The Lord is come” and “born to give them second birth” in “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” are being replaced with “Jingle Bells” and “Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas.” Christmas lights, which is a tradition that I go out to see with my friends, are a symbol of light in darkness. By celebrating the true meaning of Christmas, we acknowledge the depravity and sin of man and the need for light in this dark world, Jesus Christ our Savior.
“Christmas, therefore, is the most unsentimental, realistic way of looking at life. It does not say, “Cheer up! If we all pull together we can make the world a better place.” The Bible never counsels indifference to the forces of darkness, only resistance, but it supports no illusions that we can defeat them ourselves. Christianity does not agree with the optimistic thinkers who say, “We can fix things if we try hard enough.” Nor does it agree with the pessimists who see only a dystopian future. The message of Christianity is, instead, “Things really are this bad, and we can’t heal or save ourselves. Things really are this dark—nevertheless, there is hope.” The Christmas message is that “on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Notice that it doesn’t say from the world a light has sprung, but upon the world a light has dawned. It has come from outside. There is light outside of this world, and Jesus has brought that light to save us; indeed, he is the Light (John 8:12).”