“My experience tells me that those who have suffered and still hope understand far more about God and about life than those who have not. Maybe that is what hope is about: a way to live, not just to survive, but to live authentically amidst all of the problems of life with a Faith that continues to see possibility when there is no present evidence of it, just because God is God. That is also the wonder of Advent.” By Dennis Bratcher
Christmas is almost here. This is the final Sunday of Advent. Tomorrow night, we will light the Christ candle and remember Jesus’ entrance into this world. Since Advent began, we have looked at how Jesus came into this world to execute justice, provide the ultimate sacrifice for sin, and fill those who were hungry and thirst for righteousness. Today, we will look at how Jesus brought love into this world.
Let’s read a familiar scripture about the birth of Jesus. Luke 2:1-14.
As I was thinking about this familiar scripture, I began to think back to what it must have been like on the day Jesus was born. We talk about it, we imagine it, some even visit the place believed to be it. It really happened. Jesus, the Son of God, Savior, Prince of Peace was born. We imagine that night as spectacular. We can almost see fireworks. Today, we can imagine press releases and TV crews and millions of people who wanted to see. But, as I read it, this day was much different.
Jesus was born in a stable to ordinary parents (at least by worldly standards). He was born and other than a star, some shepherds, and later, a few wise men, there wasn’t this huge deal going on. There were angels singing to the shepherds, but it wasn’t like there was a really big fanfare from the world. The world was unchanged that night…at least on the surface. Time continued to move on. People slept, got up the next morning, went to work, got counted in the census, traveled back home, continued on about their lives. But, we say, “A SAVIOR is born!” Not a lot changed that day for the world. While it was absolutely a miracle from God, it wasn’t like God made the sky funny colors or had a big blinking sign in the sky announcing the birth of His Son. It was quiet and peaceful. It wouldn’t stay quiet, but for now it was. As far as the people knew, nothing had changed.
We are thinking…But JESUS was born!?! In that little tiny baby was all the hope, joy, peace and LOVE of God. But, the world moved on. We learned that Jesus was Immanuel…God with us…but the world moved on. How could they have missed it? I ask you…how is it that we are missing it?
From what I read and study, Jesus didn’t come to change the world…at least not on that trip. He didn’t come to overthrow the government. He didn’t do away with the religious system that was in place. He didn’t zap people who weren’t doing the right thing. He came in with love and with peace and with joy and with hope. He didn’t change the world…He changed the hearts of people.
Let’s look at one last scripture: 1 John 4:13-16. This scripture reminds us that God is love and He gave us love through Jesus. Jesus was sent by God to save us from our sins. He sent Jesus to be with us. He sent Jesus to show us real love.
Jesus came to change the hearts of people. He changed the hearts of the disciples. He changed the hearts of some of the religious leaders. He changed the heart of the Samaritan woman and of the demon possessed man and of the centurion. He changed their hearts because He brought something the world could not ever offer. He brought hope and peace and joy and LOVE. This Christmas, is He changing you? We look around the world and wonder where the hope and joy and peace and love really is. We wonder why we have to struggle and why we have to suffer. We wonder why we have to endure all of the hardships. I’m telling you that…Jesus is still changing hearts and lives, even right in the middle of the suffering and hardships. He is still changing people one by one…who change communities…who change states…who change countries…who change the world. Jesus came into the world quietly, peacefully, and without fanfare. Jesus is still working in this world quietly, peacefully, and without fanfare. But, He is working powerfully. Don’t miss it this Christmas…He just might be changing you.