Have you ever been in a situation where it seems like the best option is to just quit and walk away? Perhaps, these situations are so relatable because even God comes to moments like these- decision points.
It started all the way back in the beginning. God, in an act of creativity and a desire to be in relationship with creation, made everything. And it was good. And in order for our relationship with God to be authentic, God had to give us free will. But the challenge with giving finite, imperfect creatures free will is that sometimes they make bad decisions.
And so when things were particularly bad, God could have thrown in the towel and just walked away. But creation was good, and God knew it. So, he found the one good family left and told Noah to throw a boat party.
From a remnant of the original, good creation things start again. Over time, it becomes clear that when you just leave people on their own and expect them to figure everything on their own, it doesn’t really work. What God needed was a team, a nation, a group of people’s whose job it would be to tell the story. God goes to a guy named Abraham and his wife Sarah and when they have accepted the fact that they will never have kids because it didn’t work in the past and they’re too old now, God sends them a messenger who says it’s time to build a nation. Sarah, Abraham’s wife, literally laughs.
It is as if God is saying, “Are you done trying to do this by yourself? I want the beginning of the story to be such that it could never happen without me. That’s the point.”
And so they have babies, and the babies start having babies, and on down the line. Eventually they get a critical mass and on a vacation in Egypt find themselves enslaved. And so what is God to do? It would have been easy to just quit and walk away. Find some new family. Start a new nation. Let Abraham’s decedents be the rough draft.
But if you’ve seen “Prince of Egypt” you know God sent Val Kilmer to set his people free. So Val, I mean Moses, becomes God’s instrument to once again achieve the impossible.
The rest of the Old Testament is full of this cycle, over and over again. Things are good, God’s people are doing what they’re supposed to be doing, then they lose focus and get messed up, and God sends a messenger or a prophet or a miracle and gets things back on track.
This cycle implants itself in the people of God over centuries. Eventually, it sort of evens out- the highs get lower, the lows get higher- and we end up with a general mediocrity. Things are fine. They are ok. They are good. But they’re not great.
Perhaps this sounds familiar to you, too. Your relationship with God is up and down. Some days it is great. Some days it is non-existent. Overall, things look pretty good from the outside, what other people can see, but we know- we can feel it deep down- that there has to be more to all of this.
That’s where we find ourselves in the setting of the Christmas story. Things have mellowed out to mediocrity. But God looks at Jesus and says, “Its time.”
You see, at this moment when it would be easier to walk away, to just leave things on auto-pilot, or to just focus in on the couple people who still got it- God decides not to back away but to go himself. To come in human form as Jesus and enter into the situation and open the door for a change that will last forever.
I think it is significantly easier to know a change has to be made when things are a disaster. You may not know what to do, you may not have the resources or the dedication or the patience to make the change, but at least you know one is needed. I think it is significantly harder to decide on change when things are pretty good. Some things are working, some things aren’t. Everything looks fine on the outside, but they don’t add up to life.
At multiple points in the Bible- Romans, Galatians, Hebrews- it says that Jesus came at just the right time. On Christmas Eve we certainly remember and celebrate the fact that Jesus came two-thousand years ago and walked among us. But we also celebrate the fact that Jesus still comes to us today. God continues to work the transformation of difficult, lose-lose situations for our good and his glory. God continues to motivate us and call us to better then pretty good. No matter what happens this next year, whether you win the lottery or you experience tragedy, I can guarantee you that God wants 2014 to be more than pretty good. God wants to be a part of your life and wants your relationship with him to be more than a routine, more than a cultural thing, and more than just pretty good. Jesus came so that we would have life and have it abundantly.