January 2006

We've just finished another year. Another Christmas has come and gone, and still we wait for the Lord to return. Two thousand years ago, Jesus came. The 1st chapter of John tells us that "in Jesus was life, and that life was the light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness did not comprehend it…There was the true light which enlightens every man…" The passage reaches a climax when John exclaims "and He became FLESH." The fact that Jesus took on flesh and became human is referred to as "the Incarnation" of Christ. Because Jesus had "life" in Him, He became a light to men. If He had not taken on "life" like ours, He could not have been a light to us.

Notice the picture of two signs…often around Christmas I feel this deep need to make sure that I'm focused on the true meaning of Christmas. Sometimes I even feel guilty about buying and receiving presents. Don't get me wrong, I don't think that God is angered by gift giving. I don't even think He's angered by us getting gifts on His Son's birthday. It's customary in many parts of the world that the person who is being celebrated actually give gifts to his/her guests. And that is what God has done…given us the gift of His Son on His very Son's birthday. The book of Hebrews says this: "it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings…Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted." You see that Christ had to become Incarnate…there was no other way for us to have reconciliation with God and for the power of Satan to be broken. From the very outset, Jesus had to die. But, because of all that we can believe that He knows what life is like for us. He has been tempted in EVERY way as we have, yet without sin, and He is now a FAITHFUL and MERCIFUL High Priest for us. That is the message of Incarnation…that is the message of Christmas!

You're probably saying to yourself, "This guy is a week late. Christmas is over. He must be finishing off the last of the eggnog, and He's a little tipsy!" But, I do have a point here. Knowing what Christ has done in the resurrection, should that affect how we live the rest of the year. The obvious answer is "yes." But HOW??? Jesus makes an amazing statement in John 20:21, "as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." Somehow, through the rest of the year, our job as believers is to be "sent ones" in the same way that Christ was sent. This means incarnation. Christ was a light in the darkness.

How might we be lights in the dark places? Does this mean being a light on our campus? Probably. What about being a light among our family? You betcha! And what about those people groups throughout the world that has never had a glimmer of light among them. They are truly the darkest places when considering the amount of light distributed around the world. Oswald Sanders once said that "We Christians like to sit around and talk about the second coming of Christ while half the world has yet to hear of the first." WOW, that's so convicting for me. The incarnation that we celebrate during Christmas is an unknown to now approximately 2 billion people. There is no Christmas for them. How might God want to use you to make His Son's incarnation real to these people?

Missionaries talk about incarnational ministry. We live among them, speak their language, eat their foods, get our hands dirty in the mess of their lives and allow them to see our messy lives. In a sense, we carry on the incarnation of Christ to new places and new people through our incarnation among them. He did say that we will be His witnesses to the ends of the earth. Have you considered seriously being one who takes the light of Christ to a people in darkness? Have you really considered being a part of the greatest undertaking in all of history…namely, the extension of the Kingdom of God over all the earth?