WHAT IF JESUS WASN'T BORN?
Yep, it is that time of year when I get to watch one of my favorite movies and take a nostalgic trip back to Bedford Fall in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” This movie never disappoints me, despite the Biblically incorrect presentation of angels. The story always warms my heart and strengthens my spirit. Who among us, like George Bailey, hasn’t played the what-if-I-never-had-been-born game? In the midst of our difficult times, we have thought about that question; trying to put meaning and significance in our life. But let’s consider George Bailey’s question from the perspective of “What if Jesus had never been born?”
- There would be no reconciliation between God and man and we would be slaves to our sinful passions forever.
- Our spiritual lives would revolve around humanism and hedonism.
- There would be no churches, pastors, evangelists, or missionaries.
- There would be no nativity scenes or Christmas hymns.
- There would be no Easter.
- There would be no hope of the afterlife.
- There would be a significant less number of hospitals and schools, since so many were established by Christian men and women.
- There would be more families destroyed by divorce, domestic violence, drugs and alcoholism.
- There would be less great works of art and music that have their roots in Christianity.
- Sundays would be filled with football, golf, outings, and shopping.
Phillip Brooks wrote this about the man Jesus. “Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty and then for three years he was an itinerant preacher. He never held an office. He never wrote a book. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put his foot inside a big city. He never traveled 100s of miles from the place he was born. He never did one thing that usually accompanies greatness. He had no credentials, but himself. While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While he was dying, the only property he had on this earth was his clothes, and they were dispensed by the casting of a lot. When he was dead, he was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Twenty centuries have come and gone and today He is the centerpiece of the human race. All the armies that ever marched, all the navys that ever were built, all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.”
Unfortunately, our society continues to mold Christmas as if Jesus wasn’t born. We once had Christmas break at school, now it is Winter break; we once greeted people with a “Merry Christmas,” now it is “Seasons Greeting;” we once listened to hymns over the speakers at department store, now it is holiday songs that make no mention of Christ; we once had nativity scenes in front of schools and courthouses, now there are twinkling lights, snowmen, and Santas. What has happened? Our society has changed and removed Christ from this holiday season. But have Christians changed as well?
Most years, the Sunday closest to Christmas, churches welcomed overflow crowds. It’s the time when those with a casual tie to Christianity make their semiannual appearance. However, one of the ironies is that when Christmas falls on a Sunday, significantly fewer people come to church. Altering our Christmas morning routine (opening presents, eating the special breakfast, etc…) is inconvenient, unsettling, and an invitation to rebellion by young and old alike. But perhaps that response is appropriate, because none of the events around Christ’s birth could be called convenient: the pregnancy of an unwed young woman, traveling on a donkey when you are nine months pregnant; giving birth in a stable; traveling a great distance under the guidance of a star; etc…. Yet, each inconvenience was divinely orchestrated for humanity’s greatest good. Therefore, this Christmas season, don’t let the inconveniences of this time of year push Christ out of our lives.
-Pastor Mike Kotrla