Summary: Ours are uncertain times, like those into which Jesus came. But God in Christ invested for the long haul and pours Himself into something risky. So therefore can we.
These are uncertain times. And in uncertain times uncertain people do irrational things, destructive things. People who are drifting, people who have no anchor, people who have no center - in uncertain times, such people do things which destroy.
The pages of the calendar are turning toward January 15, and we are not certain whether there will be war. And if there is war in the Middle Fast, we are not sure how long it may last or how many may die. We are not certain what the outcome will be. The one thing we do know is that it will be devastating. And, to tell the truth, I fear irrational and destructive actions from uncertain, frightened people. I am afraid of Saddam Hussein and I am not all that confident of George Bush. It is not that I want to be disloyal or unpatriotic. I just do not know whether these men are well anchored, and in uncertain times, scared people, people who feel threatened do some very dangerous and destructive things.
The streets of Washington seem even less secure than they did a week ago, as this week our confidence was assaulted by the spectacle of teenagers driving by a junior high school and shooting at other teenagers and at even younger children. These are deadly and uncertain times, when this can happen, and you and I do not know which is worse: to fear the loss of innocent children on the streets, or to fear the loss of their innocence itself. But we do know these are uncertain times, and that when even children take security into their own hands, there is· certain to be destruction. Youngsters without anything to hope for, young people without anchorage and rootage at home, will lash out and destroy.
The uncertainty of these days comes home to you and to me in another way, too. I am thinking about the financial uncertainty of these times. This is a fear that I hear many of you talking about. You may not have to go to war, and you may live in a neighborhood that seems not to be threatened with violence. But maybe you are afraid that after years of being careful and frugal with your resources, even that is unclear and uncertain.
Isn’t it a terrible irony that we have taught each other the value of being thrifty, and we’ve even taught it to all the Central American refugees who have made their way here? And then all of a sudden all these people from El Salvador and other Central American countries find out that what they had thought was a bank wasn’t a bank at all, and their savings are gone. These are uncertain times where money is concerned.
Businessmen in what was supposed to be a recession-proof city built scores of office buildings which they cannot fill, creating debts which they cannot pay, tumbling banks which cannot collect, and canceling jobs for hundreds of workers. Uncertain times.
And if you and I get scared about that, if we are people without anchorage and without perspective, if we are persons who have no center, we will probably end up stuffing what money we have under the mattress and trying to protect ourselves. Why? Because people who are frightened do irrational things, destructive things.
And that is why Christmas this year brings a special poignancy and power. That is why Christmas speaks with such eloquence and significance to the needs of our day. You see, what God has done in Jesus Christ is to provide security for us, to make an anchor for us. What God has done in coming in Jesus Christ is to make a statement about living in uncertain times. God has said, "All my wealth I will give, I will become poor, so that you may be secure." The prophet Isaiah spoke of it when he announced that the spirit of the Lord God was on His anointed to bring good news to the poor, and the apostle Paul was right on target about this when he told us, "You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich."
What God has done in His coming in Jesus Christ is to say to us, "Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of a great joy, which shall be to all people". Fear not, for unto you is born this day a savior, Christ the Lord. Fear not. In uncertain times, fear not. For his poverty is the key to your wealth.
When our God comes in Jesus Christ, for one thing, He is saying, "I am here to invest in you for the long haul." God comes in the flesh in order to say, "I am no fly-by-night, I am the eternal one. I am certain and secure. And I have not given up on you. And so I will invest all of my wealth and become poor, so that you may be secure."