george_hancockstefanA friend of mine, who is known for his effervescent love for his wife and has not lost his romantic touch over the years, told me about a colleague who received a dozen roses. It was a difficult winter and roses were very hard to find. The recipient said, “In this time I would rather have received some good bacon instead of these flowers that will fade in about ten days.” On another occasion, I found myself with a family where the grandson said to his grandmother, “I expected a bigger present from you.”

In the days when Christ was born, the reaction to the good news of the birth of Jesus Christ was very divisive. Mary and Joseph accede to the will of God the Father upon the announcement of the baby’s impending birth. The wise men’s search for Jesus at Herod’s palace created a dramatic disturbance and the king, together with the whole city of Jerusalem, is disturbed. The shepherds, the wise men, and the elderly Simeon and Ana receive the good news with gladness.

The story of the birth of Jesus Christ continues to create all sorts of reactions. What happens if the good news changes the mind of an atheist?  He ceases to be an atheist.  What happens if a Hindu becomes a Christian?  He ceases to be a Hindu.  Because of the potential of the good news to transform lives, there is opposition to the good news.

Sometimes the good news is threatening even in our churches.  What would happen if we start preaching only Jesus Christ? For one thing we have to stop being so philosophical in our messages. What would happen if we focus on the promises of Jesus Christ, making sure that people have experienced the new life, that they have experienced the forgiveness of their sins, and that they have the joy of the Holy Spirit? We will become so much more like God wants us to be that we will be noticed by others constantly.

Sometimes we think too highly of ourselves. The residents of Jerusalem rejected Jesus because he was connected with Bethlehem, Nazareth and the province of Galilee. Sometimes I hear people say that the gospel is so simple that they cannot believe it is true.  Some people have too many degrees to believe that some Galilean fishermen wrote about Jesus accurately. The former bishop John Spong was not pleased when the African Anglican bishops disagreed with him. Sometimes we answer like he did, with the retort, “What do they know?  When it comes to theology, they (these African leaders) are strictly infants.”

God sent his Son for a simple reason – “For God so loved the Word that he sent (gave) His only begotten son so that whoever believes in Him should not perish.” If a person does not think that he is on the road to destruction, then there is no good news.  However, if each of us has to be saved by somebody else, than that is the best news that we will ever hear.

I pray that you will recognize that you are lost, that you are sick, and that you are in rebellion from God. The good news of the birth of Jesus Christ will be the best news that you will ever hear.  Receiving this news will give you life everlasting.