As Christmas day draws near and we come to the close of another year, I find myself reflecting a great deal on all that has happened in our world over the past 12 months. This has been a remarkable year. From social and political revolutions to amazing feats of athleticism to terrible accidents and natural disasters to senseless acts of violence to making the invisible victims of injustice…visible. We have watched as oppressed people around the world tasted freedom for the first time. We witnessed a young woman fight for her rights to be educated. We experienced the dramatic and personal tensions of a heated presidential election. We looked on as a man broke the sound barrier during an amazing 24-mile jump from the stratosphere and as one human race, we all died a little with each horrific mass shooting that occurred around the world.
Throughout our struggles for meaning, purpose and peace, even in the face of extreme tragedy and pain, I never cease to be amazed at the tenacity, drive, passion and relentless will that has surged from the human spirit throughout history.
What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form, in moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2
I really am amazed by all that humanity has accomplished almost in spite of itselt. And I have no doubt that, left to ourselves this “quintessence of dust” has an almost unlimited potential to overcome any tragedy and accomplish incredible feats of greatness. But therein lies that challenge, doesn’t it? It is in that fateful word almost.
As humans we long for perfection, we long for beauty, we long for justice, we long to find the center of all that is good. Yet we seldom find it. There is something missing. As we enter this Christmas season, I am not making a preachy plea for religion and I am not painting some romanticized view of Christmas. Furthermore, in light of the very recent mass shooting that occurred at Sandy Brook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, I find myself questioning all hope for any future of peace on our planet. Nevertheless, I still ask the world to consider one idea.
I think it is reasonable to accept that while humans can know both good and evil, they can’t always choose good. Perhaps there have been one or two individuals throughout history who have come close, but even they would say that even their choices in life have not always been good. Even the best people in history would most likely say that they even made choices that were hurtful or harmful to others. So with the tension of our age old struggle between good and evil in the background, here is the idea.
What if for just a moment, you considered the idea that there is a real God who created everything in the universe? What if just for a moment, you striped away all religion and tradition? What if, just for a moment, you forgot big words like theology and divinity? What if you buried all the baggage that humanity has piled up seeking God and seeking to use Him for their own gain throughout history? What if you kept just the bare essence of His words and finally, what if, just for a moment, you believed that this real God also knows good and evil? Except, this real God only chooses good..all the time.
With this idea in mind and everything else stripped away, it would just be you and God. Now that it is just you and God I can get to the significant questions. What if the longing that is at the center of the soul of all humankind really is for God…to really know Him…to be known by him? What if God really longs for us the same way we long for him? And finally…What if God’s way for us to connect really is through the crazy idea that he would send His Son to earth to overcome our inability to always do good, to teach us how to love, to fulfill justice by dying for our sins and to overcome death by being raised back to life from the grave?
It’s all crazy to consider, I know. But what if, with all the baggage stripped away, the concept of God and Jesus are more than just a nice idea. What if the stories are true. We know that humanity can do great things all by ourselves. But I wonder what we might accomplish if God were really at the center of our actions. Please don’t get me wrong, I have no desire for society to go back into the dark ages where the world was led by superstition and fear. Candidly if we are honest with ourselves, with all the senseless violence in our world, have we ever stopped following superstition and fear?With this in mind, isn’t it ironic that with all of our great accomplishments throughout history our longings for justice and peace seem to be just as strong as ever.
What if this Christmas we took God at his word? What if, without all the fog that has clouded our view of God throughout history we simply believed that Jesus is the only way for people living in darkness to see a great light and to have a light dawn for people living in the land of the shadow of death, Matt. 4:16
What if … This Christmas…