For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6
Wednesday evening, meeting with the guys in my mid-week Bible-study, we talked about how this world would look if Christ had not been born.
Pundits are quite fond, nowadays, of running through a litany of indictments against the church; Crusades, inquisitions, genocides, wars, injustices, abuses of power, unholy alliances, cultural engineering, intolerance, sexism, and more…
JESUS STANDS FOR US: But those abuses are all examples of what Christ came to stand against – and Jesus did it by standing for the radically intentional Gospel of Love. What this means is that, rather than proclaiming a crusade against this world, Jesus stands for us, Jesus died for us – to promote a campaign of invitational, proactive, constructive, redemptive, transformational good news.
Each man around the table shared two observations regarding the repercussions of the birth of Jesus: one global (such as the fight to end slavery, the application of self-sacrificial compassion that sparked the mission hospital movement, the immeasurable impact of local churches on communities…); and one personal – testimonies as to how the reality of Jesus impacts them as individuals (I am saved; I know forgiveness; I am at peace; Jesus gives me purpose…).
The cumulative result of our conversation was a shared affirmation regarding the astonishing, far-reaching and at the same time deeply personal consequences of the birth of Christ.
This world would be – in a word – “unrecognizable” had God not taken such a creative, loving, all-embracing step on behalf of his wayward, lost, floundering children.
The truth about Christmas is not a sweet story, a moral tale, or an inspirational fable designed to make us feel good, or evoke some positive response to the general idea of goodness…. NO! The truth about Christmas is darkness shattering, world-changing, and life transforming! This is no poetic, philosophical fairytale, but Immanuel – real, and direct, and as alive as we are!
A vulnerable baby, born in the shadow of a brutal cross.
God’s imperative of love broke into time and space with power and with intention. Don’t let’s get left behind with the cast-aside wrapping paper and spent party favors.
“God With Us” is a truth that demands our complete attention, and our fully motivated response!
I guess that means I’ll see you in church this morning! – DEREK