A friend commented to me that she thinks people enjoy celebrating Christmas and the birth of baby Jesus so much because not only is it fun, but it is also safe: we are much more comfortable with a cooing baby than we are with Jesus as the Creator and Judge of the world.
We love the story of tiny baby Jesus, wrapped in swaddling clothes, laid in a manger. But while celebrating his advent, we should also be mindful of who Jesus actually was and is, and of what Jesus came to do.
Jesus did not stay a baby.
In light of recent events in our own country and around the world, it is good to remember why Jesus was born and lived among us (Emmanuel - God with us!), and why he died and now lives to intercede for his people.
We are bombarded daily with news of terrorist attacks, school shootings, and hostage situations, and with reports of corruption in government, abuse of the law, gangs, drug abuse, sex trafficking, and missing and abused children.
We read about educational reforms that confound and frustrate teachers and undermine the authority and values of parents.
We are witnesses to a sexual revolution in this country that defies reason and mocks virtue.
We are told the problem is extremism, lax immigration standards, or easy access to firearms. Experts say we need stricter gun control laws, and schools need armed guards and police dogs. Our problems could be fixed with term limits, tolerance, rehabilitation, stricter obscenity laws, more governmnet oversight.
What we are not told - not on national TV, internet news feeds, Facebook, or talk radio - is that the problem is sin. Sin infects every single one of us, whether we shoot up a restaurant or sit quietly on our church pews every Sunday morning.
Our news sources do not tell us that greater than the offenses we commit against each other - murder, rape, kidnapping, abuse, licentiousness, willful ignorance, neglect, bigotry, outrageous foolishness - far greater than all these is the offense of our sin against the holy God who created and sustains us.
We rightly respond with outrage to the latest terrorist attack. But am I as outraged by my own defiance against God's holiness?
The truth is, the jihadist is dead to the things of God; he needs Jesus. The school shooter is not just depressed; he is broken, and he needs Jesus. The angry, out-of-control parent is not just overwhelmed by her circumstances; she is a sinner, and she needs Jesus. The church member who surfs internet porn sites late at night is not just having a weak moment; he is an offense to the holiness of God, and he needs Jesus.
We are all desperate, and we all need a radical salvation. We don't need a sweet little baby: we need a mighty Savior.
A baby in a manger, who grew up and lived a perfect life, the God-man, who died for and who now lives to intercede for sinners, sinners like the terrorist on TV, the Super Bowl pimp, the businessman addicted to porn, the out-of-control mom, the angry teenager, the gay lovers, and me.
No, this baby is not safe. But I invite you to come anyway, come to the manger and see!
[Originally published in the Union City Daily Messenger, December 23, 2015.]
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