Summary: If you want a new life today, regard Christ as more than just a baby in a manger, realize that Christ died in your place, and rely on Him to change your life.
When the Russian comedian Yakov Smirnoff immigrated to the United States, he said that the thing he loved most about America was the grocery stores. He said, “I'll never forget walking down one of the aisles and seeing powdered milk; just add water and you get milk. Right next to it was powdered orange juice; just add water and you get orange juice. Then I saw baby powder, and I thought to myself, What a country!” (Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker, Zondervan, 2011, pp. 134-135; www.PreachingToday.com)
Don’t you wish change was that easy? Just add water and you get a new life? Well, I’m here to tell you that a new life is possible, because Jesus came over 2,000 years ago.
You say, “Phil, how? How can I get a new life today? How can I see real change in my life for the better? How can my life be turned around?” My friends, it starts when you…
REGARD CHRIST AS MORE THAN A BABY IN A MANGER.
Look beyond the Creche to the Christ Himself, the Messiah, God’s anointed King of the universe.
In 2 Corinthians 5:16, the Apostle Paul said, “Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.”
In other words, don’t just see Jesus as a flesh and blood human being. See Him as GOD in the flesh, who came to change the world! You see, the world was hostile towards God, but Jesus came to bring everything back into harmony with Him.
2 Corinthians 5:19 says that “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them…”
Instead of condemning the world for its rebellion, God chose to save the world through Christ. Think about it. Just by His coming, Jesus changed the world!
John Ortberg, in his book Who Is this Man? Says “we take for granted the ways our world has been shaped by him.”
For example, children were routinely left to die of exposure in the ancient world, particularly if they were girls. Parents didn’t name their children until the eighth day or so, because up until then they might decide to kill their baby, especially if it was deformed or otherwise unwanted. This custom changed because of a group of people remembered that they were followers of a man who said, “Let the little children come to me.”
Jesus never held an office or led an army… And yet the movement he started would eventually mean the end of emperor worship. His words would later be cited in documents like the Magna Carta, begin a tradition of common law and limited government, and undermine the power of the state rather than reinforce it as other religions in the empire had done. His movement led to this language entering history: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”
Jesus never wrote a book. Yet his call to love God with all one's mind would lead to a community with a high reverence for learning. Even when those in the so-called “Dark Ages” nearly eradicated all classical education, that little community of Christ followers would preserve what was left of that education. In time, the movement Jesus started would give rise to libraries, guilds of learning, and many of our major universities.
The Roman Empire into which Jesus was born could be splendid but also cruel, especially for the malformed, the diseased, and the enslaved. In that context, Jesus had said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me.” An idea slowly emerged that the suffering of every single individual human being matters and that those who CAN help OUGHT to do so. Hospitals, orphanages, and relief efforts of all kinds emerged from this movement, and even today they often carry names that remind us of him and his teachings: names like “Good Samaritan” or “Good Shepherd”.
Jesus consistently championed the excluded. His inclusion of women led to a community to which women flocked in disproportionate numbers. Slaves—up to a third of ancient populations—might wander into a church fellowship and have a slave-owner wash their feet rather than beat them. One ancient text instructed bishops to not interrupt worship to greet a wealthy attender, but to sit on the floor to welcome the poor.
Humility, which was scorned in the ancient world, became enshrined in a cross and was eventually championed as a virtue. Historian John Dickson writes, “It is unlikely that any of us would aspire to this virtue were it not for the historical impact of [Christ’s] crucifixion.”
Furthermore, in the ancient world, virtue meant rewarding your friends and punishing your enemies. An alternative idea came from Galilee: Love your enemies, and seek reconciliation. Thus, forgiveness moved from being viewed as a “weakness” to being regarded as “an act of moral beauty.”