Summary: Part 4 in series Eternal Christmas, this message sees the birth of Jesus as God modeling for us what he is asking us to do.
Wildwind Community Church
December 26, 2010
G.K. Chesterton said, “When a person finds something which he prefers to life itself, he for the first time has begun to live.” We all need something above ourselves to live for. When people cannot find anything above themselves to live for, they will frequently fall into depression, self-loathing, and even suicide. It is just a fact of life that we don’t live – don’t last – very long.
Obviously we care deeply about our lives on the earth. We work hard. We worry a lot. We put a lot of effort into parties – things like Christmas, for example – and we find ourselves mourning pretty deeply at funerals, don’t we? If we can’t find something beyond ourselves to live for, then we are left to conclude that life doesn’t really matter. And if nothing really matters, what’s the point? Why try hard to get good grades? Why treat other people as you want to be treated? Why get an education and try to improve your life? Why get out of bed at all? After all, in just a few short years, your life will be over. And sure, if you don’t apply yourself in life, you might hurt other people, but time will take care of them too. Eventually their hurts won’t matter anymore either, and so on and so on.
People can’t live this way. Even most of the atheists I know find something higher than themselves to live for. I know one who is perhaps the most principled and moral person I have ever met. He clearly lives for something beyond himself. He places his own moral code above whatever his immediate whims and desires might be, and lives in service to this code because it is what will ultimately be in the best interests of both himself and society. Many find something beyond themselves in science or in “the universe.” Turns out Bob Dylan was right – “You’re gonna have to serve somebody.”
But the question of who, or what, you are going to serve isn’t the most basic question. It sounds very basic, I know – like nothing could be more basic than that. But an even more basic question is are we alone in this universe. Does each of us exist as a completely separate individual, cut off from everybody else, floating aimless in a random mass of stars and planets and infinite choices? Or is there something that connects us – to the universe, to each other, to a higher being who holds it all together? That is the most basic question, and the way we answer that question will impact everything.
“When a person finds something which he prefers to life itself, he for the first time has begun to live.”
I have already taught that Jesus came proclaiming the Kingdom of God – the news that God’s kingdom was and is available to us right now, while we live in this broken, wounded world. This is a message of connection. This says, “You are not alone. There is something more to your life than what you see around you. You are not just something and someone – you are PART of something and someone. A something and a someone that are much, much, much, much, much bigger than yourself. You are not the whole puzzle – you are simply a small piece. But every piece matters because of the whole it is a part of. The whole cannot be whole without all the pieces! The Apostle Paul is writing a letter to the Roman church telling them that each of them how special they are, and then puts it into context with this:
1 Corinthians 12:19 (MSG)
19 ... no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of.
In preaching about the kingdom of God a few weeks back, I was mentioning how each of us is the ruler over our own kingdom. We each have a certain number of things (and perhaps a few people) over which we have ultimate authority and responsibility, and the message of the Kingdom of God is that God wants to take our billions of tiny kingdoms up into his one huge, overarching kingdom. In God’s kingdom, each individual kingdom finds its perfect fit, without warring against the others, without hurting anyone else or disadvantaging anyone else.
That is why the angel said:
Luke 2:10 (NIV)
10...I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
In the kingdom of God, everything belongs. Nothing is wasted. All kingdoms find their perfect fit there. All individuals find perfect peace and happiness there. All needs are perfectly met in this kingdom.
Since in the kingdom of God, everything belongs – everything finds its perfect fit – then you also belong! You also have a place to stand – a place to be – a place where your peace and happiness and security are not, and cannot ever be, threatened or diminished.