Last Thursday I wrote a blog post imagining fictional newspaper headlines in the days surrounding Jesus’ birth. I was blissfully unaware on Thursday of the horrible non-fiction headlines that would be created on Friday. (Sadly, my post Jesus Wept written last July in reaction to the Colorado theater shootings is relevant again. I invite you to read it too.)
We weep, grieve and search our souls after tragic loss, and we learn from them. However, as has always been the case, evil will persist. What can we do about it?
If you were God, what would you do?
How would you fix this broken world?
This is not a rhetorical question.
Jesus’ incarnation, the miracle that we celebrate at Christmas, teaches us exactly how God chose to fix the world.
As a human, Jesus experienced the vulnerability of childhood, the awkwardness of adolescence and the challenges of adult life. He experienced joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, good and evil.
As God, Jesus understood the source, the roots and the manifestations of evil, and he had a plan to deal with it.
Great! What did he do?
We might imagine, as Jesus’ disciples had, that Jesus would assume the role of a military leader and king like David had been. From such a position of power Jesus could have stamped out corruption, cancelled debts, re-distributed wealth, proclaimed freedom from oppression and enforced justice.
In fact, the God-given Mosaic Law provided for all of that. The ancient theocracy of Israel should have been the model of justice, righteousness and prosperity for the world, but the people refused to follow God’s law. Jesus did not come to do that again. What good are perfect laws when imperfect people perpetually ignore them?
So, how did the Son of God fix the world?
Jesus took the sins of the world on himself and died with them on a Roman cross. Three days later he emerged from his tomb eternally alive and having defeated sin and death forever.
But then he ascended into heaven leaving the injustice, poverty, corruption and violence of the world outwardly unchanged.
One might reasonably ask how that fixed anything.
But it did, it does and it will.
Jesus changed the world by bringing the kingdom of God to earth. He taught us that all people are worthy of respect, that love, humility and service are of ultimate value in God’s eyes, and he showed us the power of grace and forgiveness. His ministry and teaching were so revolutionary and threatening to the controlling values and power structures of the earth that the political and religious leaders killed him.
Jesus changed eternity. Healthy civilizations keep a lid on much evil, but they cannot get rid of it. It is sadly resident in every human heart, and it keeps us from having peace with God and with each other. Jesus came to fix our sinful hearts so that we can live with Him forever.
This Christmas, as you remember the birth of Jesus Christ, ask yourself what life on the earth would be like without Him. Then dream of freedom from sin and evil in His eternal kingdom!
Jesus is our hope today and forever.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.” John 14:27