As we move through the Christmas season and arrive at the New Year, we do so in the midst of tumultuous times – not just in America, but around the globe. The coming presidential election is shaping up to be one of the most important in recent history. And while we move toward that historic national decision, the possible candidates on both sides of the political aisle are embroiled in passionate rhetoric and controversy. Think for a moment about this last year. Allow me to recount a just few newsworthy events that occurred in 2015:
- January – 12 people were killed in a terrorist attack in a corporate office in Paris; In New York, Police officers turned their back on the mayor after his remarks regarding the race riots in Ferguson, MO.
- April – Race related riots erupted in Baltimore Maryland, Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon intensified.
- June – 9 people were killed in a racially motivated shooting in a church in Charleston, South Carolina; the U.S. Supreme court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage for all 50 states.
- July – 4 people were killed by a radicalized Muslim at a military recruiting center in Chattanooga, Tenn.
- August – The Syrian refugee crisis intensified; a new wave of riots broke out again in Ferguson, MO.
- September – U.S. Speaker John Boehner resigned amid turmoil in the GOP leadership.
- October – A U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan hits a hospital that collaterally killed 22 civilians; Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton testified about the 2012 Benghazi attack that killed four Americans.
- November – ISIS launched three coordinated attacks in Paris, killing 129 people and wounding hundreds more; as a result of the Paris attacks, US lawmakers called for tougher screening of Syrian refugees; race riots erupted in Chicago following the police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald; In Colorado Springs, a police officer and two others were killed after a shooter attacked a Planned Parenthood clinic.
- December – 14 people were killed and more than 20 were wounded when two radicalized Muslims opened fire at a holiday party in San Bernardino, California; the GOP continues to be embroiled in controversy regarding front-running presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Yes. All of this happened in just one year – in 2015. This is indeed the incredibly unstable, galactically confused, and dramatically evil, present day world that you and I live in. Yet, when we look to the past – over 2000 years ago – the ancient world surrounding Jesus’ birth was very much the same. In those days, Caesar Augustus ordered the Roman government to enforce a huge census to make sure that everyone in the empire was paying taxes. This census disrupted almost every home in Palestine as everyone had to travel back to their place of birth to register for the census. Not much different than an refugee or immigration crisis. Meanwhile, Palestine was being held captive by an evil puppet-king named Herod who would go to any lengths of extortion and murder to declare himself as the messianic King of the Jews. As a result of his madness, he gave a decree to slaughter all male children under two years of age. Talk about bad leadership. Wow! Can you imagine this taking place in America? Furthermore, Jewish Zealots were inciting almost daily terror attacks against Roman citizens and supporters. And race wars? These were a common everyday experience – especially between Jews and Samaritans. Does all of this sound familiar?
Yet, into that world of war, terrorism, corrupt leadership, abortion, infanticide, racism, and political intrigue, the King of kings and the Lord of lords was born as a lowly child, belonging to a lowly family, in lowly town, in a lowly barn. This babe – the Glory of God in the form of a human bond-servant – entered that world. And nothing has ever been the same. This tiny baby. This lone man. This singular life. He brought the whole world to a shocking standstill. Religious leaders stopped in their tracks. Zealots dropped their rocks. And soldiers dropped to their knees. This baby frustrated kings. Shouted down storms. And struck down demons. This singular life. He commanded the waves. He instructed the wind. He instantly multiplied bread and fermented water into the finest wine. In his hands a beggar’s meal became a King’s banquet. This singular life. He unified races. Made enemies into brothers. Made prostitutes into princesses. He blessed those who were cursed. Then he cursed sickness and he mocked death. War raged around him, and in the face of the tumult he declared himself – “The Prince of Peace”. This singular life. In the face of evil, and in the face of satan himself – this babe, this God-man, this singular life, this lamb – laid down his life and broke the power of sin and death forever. And through that sacrifice, you and I are free. Let that wash over you for a moment. Say it slowly. We. Are. Free.
Christians, you are a very blessed people this Christmas. Though you live in a world that looks incredibly dark. Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you was born, in the city of David, a Savior, who is the Christ the King. So sing along with the heavenly host and praise God, firmly proclaiming with a full voice and a whole heart, “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will toward men. Christ, the King has come!”
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.