Jesus did not come because things were right. He came because things had gone wrong—so wrong that they demanded the Creator’s intervention, says EDWARD BURI in this Christmas 2017 reflection.
The coming of Christ is not the coming of a visitor.
“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (Jn. 1:3).
The coming of Christ into the world is an entry of its Maker and Owner. In a world where human beings invest in marking territories, the entry of the Owner makes the self-proclaimed owners of the world uncomfortable. He presents a competitor who must be swiftly put out of business. He must be rejected and ejected.
The disruption caused by the entry of Christ invokes a marshalling of power to dilute the Church and its message. To the oppressed, however impoverished and thirsty, the entry of the Owner of the universe brings relief. In Christ, they see a lifter of their lowered heads, a breaker of their shackles and a quencher of their thirst. The entry of the Owner and Maker of all things announces that whatever you own, you are owned.
God relates with His creation from a foundation of love. “From the fullness of his grace we have received one blessing after another.” (Jn. 1:16) God so loved the world that graciously “he gave.”
The Christmas season ushers in God’s grace in that God so loved the world that He came. He came to give Himself to all. The indiscriminate nature of God’s embrace is incomparable. This intensive and inclusive generosity that flows from God’s core is a testimony to His love. Love is the highest experience anywhere. The coming of Christ speaks and announces to every living soul that “you are loved, loved at the highest and deepest and longest place possible—the heart of God.” God’s guaranteed love provokes a passion for life.
God would rather fix than spectate. “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…” (Jn. 1:12). He was called “Jesus” because He would save people from their sins. Handling sin means interacting with the soiled side of life. Jesus did not come because things were right; He came because things had gone wrong—so wrong that they demanded the Creator’s intervention.
Christmas tells us that our messes are open to God, but He refuses to sadistically sentence us. Instead, he points us to transformation. The sweetness of sin is threatened by the plough of transformation. Sin becomes unthreatening when you subject it to transformation. With transformation made available, the issue God has with human beings is not performance of sin, but rather protection of it.
God saves while remaining in solidarity with us. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (Jn. 1:14)
The child born to Mary was named Emmanuel, which means “God with us.” God with us also communicates “God who is us.” The nature of Emmanuel is as miraculous as it is mysterious. God with us and God who is us tells of salvation and solidarity. Emmanuel deletes our sins because He is God while remaining “with us.” The Emmanuel hand is on one end the pat-on-the-back of a friend while on the other it is the finger of God. Christmas invites us to be at home with Jesus because He is at home with us.
God has a preferred quality of life for His people. “In him was life, and that life was the light of all men.” (John 1:4). That Jesus came to get us out of sin expressly tells of a train that has left its track. Our life is wired for the track, never off it. By killing, stealing and destroying, the devil specialises in distracting us. For him to gain control over us, we must be off-track. Evil drives us off-track deliberatelyto lureus out of our natural habitat.
In His passion for life, Jesus—dressed in overalls and gumboots—seeks us in the darkness of derailment and engineers us back to light. Christmas reminds us of a Creator who loves us enough to fix us and whose solidarity saves us by inviting us into a fellowship of abundance.
Rev Edward Buri is an editorial adviser of THE Way magazine and a licensed minister of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA).