Sunday, December 28, 2014

Welcome to the Real World, Baby

Put aside your traditional warm and fuzzy stereotypes of the Nativity handed down through the centuries. The world Christ was born into was much like the world we live in today. It was a world of violence, death, indifference, and neglect. Things haven't changed much in 2000 years because man hasn’t changed much. In spite of all our so called progress, it’s still a world where people crowd God out and kill babies like they were a dime a dozen.

Here are a couple of real world headlines from the Jerusalem Chronicle in the early days of Jesus.

GOD TURNED AWAY AT BETHLEHEM MOTEL

(Luke 2:7 NIV)  "She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."

No room for God. No room for the baby Jesus. The King of Kings had no bed! The Lord of Lords had no clothes! He was wrapped in torn up rags to keep him warm. God in rags! He was cradled in a feed trough where animals had drooled and slobbered as they ate their dirty hay and grain. Welcome to the real world, baby!

God came into the world, but only a few people noticed. For the rest of the world, it was business as usual. They had no room for Jesus.

Things never really got a whole lot better for Christ. Thirty years after his birth we hear Jesus say, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." (Matthew 8:20 NIV)

Welcome to the real world, baby!

“No room at the inn”, today has been replaced with “no room in the mall”, “no room on public property”, “no room in our schools”, “no room in our schedules”, “no room in our budgets”, “no room in our hearts."

John the apostle hits the nail on the head when he says, "He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him." (John 1:10 NIV)

God came to earth and almost everyone missed him. Christ’s birth was the turning point of history, but went by unnoticed by the vast majority of people living on earth. It wasn’t long before the Jerusalem Chronicle ran another headline.

BABIES MURDERED IN BETHLEHEM

(Matthew 2:16 NIV) “When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.”

This day that “will live in infamy”, ranks right up there with Pearl Harbor, 9-11, and recent school massacres. It was one of man’s cruelest hours. Herod felt so threatened by the baby born King of the Jews that he decided to “fix the problem” by killing all the boys in Bethlehem under two years old. Welcome to the real world baby!  

A child is born, and immediately, evil rears its head to kill him. Hope comes to mankind in the form of a Light, and right away, the darkness tries to snuff it out. Bethlehem is blessed by God and chosen as the birthplace of the Savior of the world, but in no time, it became the killing fields. The peace and joy of Christmas were replaced with murder and mayhem. Silent Night, Holy Night, was replaced by the sound of weeping and wailing. Welcome to the real world, baby! The romantic stories and songs of Christmas cannot cover up the insecure brutality of Herod’s wrath.

We've may have come a long way since the Butcher of Bethlehem did his thing. But we have not become all that much kinder. We are much more proficient and sophisticated in the way we kill babies today. We abort them, bomb them, starve them, gas them, and mow them down with semi-automatic weapons. By the millions we steal their lives and never once do we look into their sad and frightened eyes. Welcome to the real world, baby.

These headlines stalk us beyond the cradle. These forces will seek our demise until the day we die. They steal our children’s innocence. They stupefy our culture with alcohol and drugs and sex and greed. They plant the seeds of discontent and destruction in marriages. They turn us into bitter cynics instead of people who glorify God. None of us are immune. Whenever we seek to do good for God’s glory there will be opposition… sometimes violent opposition. Satan will use any and all means necessary to silence God’s children. Welcome to the real world, baby.   

All this does not necessarily mean defeat. Jesus has overcome the world. We may be bloodied, but we can also be victorious. Even with the worst this world had to offer, "The child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him." (Luke 2:40 NIV)

Jesus grew stronger and so can we. God’s Son cannot be defeated. Grace was upon Jesus and it will be upon those who believe. Grow stronger and be filled with wisdom in the year to come. And oh… welcome to the real world baby.

 

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