Exciting phrases, easy acronyms, and memorable lists formed from dense works of systematic theology can be helpful for the everyday Christian. While these reductions of God’s Word and His nature help us understand general frameworks, they are unable to help us understand everything the Bible teaches. It is one thing...
We all know the scene from It’s a Wonderful Life. George Bailey is told by his guardian angel, Clarence, that he had gotten his wish: George had never been born. The chaotic, selfish, sinful tendencies of the town are amplified as a bewildered George stumbles through Pottersville, panicked and heartbroken that no one knows or cares about him. Eventually, George Baily’s appreciation for life is renewed as he recognizes that his life is worth living.
After watching It’s a Wonderful Life this year, my eyes fell on the verse hanging in our home:
Now the light [Jesus], which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. (John 1:9)
And he did come into the world. Verse 14 goes on to say: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Suddenly it hit me — what if Jesus had never come into the world? What if he had never been born? What if God had not given his only Son to offer salvation to every person?
There would be no angel telling Mary she’d give birth to the Messiah. No preparing the way by John the Baptist. No disciples. No miracles. No first Christians. No first Church. No fulfillment of the law. No salvation available by grace through faith. No life for the world. Friends, it would be, literally, the death of us all — eternally — if Jesus had not been born. We would have no hope, no help, and no salvation from the punishment each of us deserves because we would be hopeless, helpless sinners.
We would be stuck in a chaotic, selfish, sinful world, dead in trespasses and sins and would only have the option to follow the way of this world and of the prince of the power of the air — the devil (Ephesians 2:1-2). We would always satisfy the passions of our flesh, carrying out our unholy desires (2:3). And because of this, our nature would have stayed the same — children of wrath. There would be no opportunity to become right with God, to become children of God.
But praise God that he did indeed provide his Son to offer life to every person!
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved… (Ephesians 2:4-5)
This Christmas, rejoice in Jesus Christ — the wonderful life that came into the world to save sinners!