Christmas Day 2014
Jesus was born as a baby to identify with our human condition. He wanted to identify with our lives as far as possible.
It was necessary for Him to become human to save us. He could have just sent us a message from Heaven: OK you are forgiven. All is well.
This would have been salvation in another way, but it would have been only an ‘external’ salvation.
The method He chose is an ‘internal’ salvation insofar as we are saved by an internal transformation. We become different and better people.
This explains the apparent unhurried nature of the Saviour’s coming.
He could have come as an adult, and immediately begun His public ministry, leading to death and resurrection.
Instead it took thirty years before this happened. He wanted us to learn that the details are important, especially as regards family life, where we learn so much about right and wrong.
Hurrying is not always helpful. In fact it is what is wrong with the present world. Everyone is tearing about but often missing the main point of life (to know, love and serve God).
The Christmas story did happen in one glorious night, but that was only the beginning of salvation, not yet the full reality.
So far He had arrived. This much means that everything else that needs to happen is in train. So we rejoice in anticipation of all that follows.
What follows? What still needs to happen?
Salvation originates outside of us but does not take effect unless we appropriate it for ourselves.
We are saved from inside by our own participation. Every little thing is important.
We are not saved by military might, but by the healing of whatever is wrong in us.
If we are proud we become humble; if timid we become brave; if lonely we find love; if unjust we become honest; if selfish, generous… in short, whatever is wrong is changed to its proper opposite state.
God (in the humanity of Jesus) lives a perfect humanity, and so sets up a new possibility for the rest of us.
We would prefer it to be easier than it is. If we could be saved by being handed a ticket to heaven, to be presented at the point of death – we would probably settle for that!
We might say it is too hard altogether, but we can do it by God’s grace.
We can interact with Him and obtain all the help we need.
We are not merely passive onlookers. Nor do we hide from Him.
No, we interact with Him. We ask Him to act in us, to help us change whatever needs changing, and that is salvation. If we really seek Him out we will make great progress.
We will reach a point where we apply His laws to our daily life, our homes, businesses, our whole society and culture. Everything human comes under the authority of the Saviour. Even nature will obey Him and recover from its present disorder.
This will happen only if we pray every day, not just the big feasts, but every day seek out the grace of God to guide us, forgive us, change us.
Salvation is a process, involving many things.
Mostly, though, it is just a matter of doing normal things well, like speaking courteously to our own family members. Do these things a billion times over throughout the world, and there has to be great improvement.
The Christmas feast has a certain strangeness about it - with so many supernatural things happening - but its effect on us in everyday life is very ‘normal’.
As God takes on our nature, we share more fully in His. That has to be an improvement!