Friday, 24 December 2010

When Jesus was born

Tomorrow the world (with varying degrees of awareness) remembers the day that divided human history into two: the coming of God as man.

I have been walking outside earlier this week, and today, whilst on various errands. It is very busy where I am. People are building, buying, selling, repairing, planning, working, partying, relaxing, spending...

As I walked home this afternoon, I thought to myself... why do they bother? Such a lot of activity. For what, ultimately?

The old pagan view of history was that it was cyclical. Everything comes and goes... then comes again, and goes again... and so on.

And on, and on, and on. And on.

Christians have a radically different view of history: history as inevitable (but not smooth!), God-ruled progress leading to a glorious fulfilment. History under the control and direction of Jesus Christ, the God-man who is now raised to the Father's right hand, and who will fulfil all that his Father has appointed for him, bringing the nations to obedience under him and ultimately reigning forever and ever.

Since the Enlightenment, modern secularists have seemed to be trying to combine parts of these two ideas (cyclical / progress). Relentless progress comes from scientific endeavour and (since the 20th century) pushes for democratic reforms. New advances are indeed made. (Modern secularists ought to be honest enough to acknowledge that modern science and democratic ideals had their historical roots ultimately in the Protestant Reformation. I digress). But where is the goal? What are we heading to with all of this? What will the technological nirvana look like, and will it leave us feeling fulfilled when we get there? Will we arrive in some kind of heaven once everybody has fully free and fair elections? On the other hand, a lot of modern life is tediously cyclical. The X Factor comes, and goes... and comes again. The reds win the league, then the blues win it, then the reds win it again. The blue party wins at the polls, then the red party, and then the blue one again. People are born, get educated, work, have a family, get into some scrapes along the way, die, and then their offspring repeat it. Is there an ultimate destination that these cycles are heading towards? Or is it just more of the same but just a little bit better every decade or so? Is the ultimate goal of humanity the X Factor as it will be in the year 3000, and the Premier League will be so exciting that you'll, you'll, ... well ... you'll what? Isn't there something more to life than this? Is progress more than just better technology, a better education system, a more "fair" society, better health care and everybody getting to choose freely from a wide range of choices as to precisely how they slowly die? Isn't there something more?

So, as I walked home I looked at the green grass and the trees. Life has colour because there is one great, over-riding story: that of the Saviour who was born at Bethlehem 2000 years ago. All things are because of him, by him and for him. Life has colour and purpose because of him. It's worth pressing into another year because his kingdom can never fail, and its final fulfilment is now a year closer. Hallelujah!

1 comment:

Ned Kelly said...

May I wish you and your family a happy and holy Christmas, and take this opportunity to thank you for your regular insightful posts.
It is so strange that so many deny the impact of Jesus in this world, seemingly ignorant that the counting of years is based on His birth, and the two most popular holidays across the world are based on His birth, death, and resurrection.
Wilful blindness is perhaps the most afflicting disease from which people suffer.
Looking forward to your posts in 2011, and improved marathon times.