“Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” –GK Chesterton
I like to think of the birth of Jesus as a true fairy tale. True, because it actually happened, and fairy tale because of the magic within the story. Christmas magic has nothing to do with elves or flying reindeer. The magic of Christmas is the arrival of the one who would defeat the dragon.
The magic of Christmas compels us to walk as those who believe the dragon has been defeated. The power of Christmas past points us to the promise of Christmas future when the voice will shout out, “Behold, I am making all things new,” and war will be nevermore.
Christmas magic reminds us that the dragon’s defeat gives us the courage to be peacemakers today.
Examples are endless, but I offer one near to my heart.
For me, when the angels proclaimed “peace on earth” they were talking about the peace that flows from forgiven sin–and much more. What if they actually meant a world where one day the bow, sword, and battle were abolished forever? What if they actually envisioned a world without swords, without spears? A world without tanks, aircraft carriers, jet fighters, and nuclear standoffs?
What if, even though we understand that the final peace will never be fully attained until His return, the One who promised peace also called us to join Him as he delivers on his peace in the here and now?
What if the call of Christ was to fight for peace? What if he meant it when he said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will called children of God?”
For many of us, we fail to fight for peace because war is a foregone conclusion; we doubt the dragon’s defeat and succumb to lethargic ambivalence. The news of conflict in Gaza elicits barely more than a “They’ll be fighting until Jesus comes back.” Civil wars in Sudan, unrest in Egypt, riots in Nigeria, coup attempts in Ecuador, insurrections in Chechnya– Yawn–just wars and rumors of wars.
For others of us, we fail to fight because each new conflict creates a perverse form of celebration–each skirmish, battle, and war-zone is viewed as simply hastening the last day. That it comes at the cost of deaths of thousands and the suffering of millions is nothing more than collateral damage. I wonder if some of us are more eagerly anticipating the carnage of the last battle than the eternal reign of peace. I wonder if our obsession with the birth pangs has crowded out any desire for the return of the King.
And for a few, we fail to fight because we actually prefer the security provided by the blanket of Pax Americana. I wonder if perhaps some of us would rather go to war as patriots to perserve our national legacy, than fight together as brothers and sisters for the Messiah’s legacy of peace.
Conflict was inevitable at the turn of the last century in India. Inevitable, that is until Gandhi borrowed the magic of the fairy tale and fought for peace. Christians on both side of the border of Ireland ignored the true fairy tale and the battle raged without end, Sunday after bloody Sunday–until it ended. My own nation, under God, indivisible, was forever divided along the line of race. That is, until one man with a dream and an understanding of Christmas appealed to the promise of peace and openly longed for day “when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!'”
The true Magician behind Christmas is delivering on his promise of peace, even when war seems unavoidable, even as He prolongs the era of ultimate peace. The question is, does our longing for peace compel us to join Him?
Or do we cower before the defeated dragon?