“…Christ the Saviour is born….”
The truth is that the world doesn’t really believe it needs a saviour, does it? Well, everyone would like to be saved from the perils of the European financial crisis, the Middle Eastern riots, poverty, HIV/AIDS, global warming, and a host of more personal disasters. But few believe that there is any real relief from these things; we must just make the most of what we have and get on with it.
On the other hand most of us have our own favourites when it comes to any of these crises, and some vague idea of how we will be rescued. COP17 will save us from global warming–you mean it didn’t? Common sense, or ‘the will of the people’ (or maybe NATO) will save the Middle East. Science will save us from HIV/AIDS (a vaccine is surely just around the corner). The lottery will save us from personal financial disaster. Not sure about Europe, or the earthquakes in Christchurch, which is a more personal matter.
What about God? Isn’t he concerned about these and other matters that get our attention. Well if we are concerned about them, God is too. That’s what love is about. But he’s not going to ride into our lives or into our world on a white horse and take care of it all. Sorry about that (let me not tell you about Father Christmas just yet).
Our Saviour comes as a baby. Yes, Christ the Saviour of the world is a baby.
Sounds a bit ridiculous doesn’t it? There’s not much saving that a baby can do. The only thing a baby can offer is its vulnerability. And that’s pretty well all that this baby continued to offer for the rest of his life. Oh, don’t get me wrong; Jesus wasn’t ever a walk over (just ask the Pharisees and other religious leaders–political leaders too, for that matter). But he was only ever standing up for others, not for himself. For the rest he offers us his vulnerability, otherwise translated as love.
I know, love seems like a pretty poor substitute for NATO’s bombing of Libya and doesn’t seem likely to help in the fight against totalitarian regimes, financial crisis, disease or poverty. Indeed, we put love to death, that first Easter.
We think that love is too weak to deal with the world’s problems so we choose power and coercion to fix things. After that, we think, we can start sharing the love. But God thinks otherwise. It was when Jesus knew that he had all power from the Father that he washed his disciples’ feet and went to the cross (John 13:3). Paul knew God was sending him to Rome. In his weaker moments he probably thought of it as some sort of triumphant entry: taking the gospel to the centre of world power. No, not in chains, surely?
Isaiah describes the Lord’s servant: “He won’t call attention to what he does with loud speeches or gaudy parades. He won’t brush aside the bruised and the hurt and he won’t disregard the small and insignificant, but he’ll steadily and firmly set things right.” (Isaiah 42:2-3 The Message)
Will my love for my neighbour bring world peace and a cure for AIDS? Probably not. But, if the love is real and involves real sacrifice, it will make a real difference in my neighbour’s life. And who knows what God could do with that?
- Can Santa Steal Christmas? (circuspectives.wordpress.com)
- Does God Care (about Christchurch)? (wonderingpreacher.wordpress.com)