The Christmas Story: To Be Continued

He wasn’t coerced, manipulated, bribed, or threatened to leave his lofty throne and live among a bunch of peasants.

This wasn’t some slapdash, haphazard, last minute plan to save humanity. There was no plan B, no alternate ending.

Our Immanuel was not the victim of some cosmic bait & switch in which He would unwittingly become a reluctant sacrifice for all sin. Nor was He some shrewd operator who was promised Universal Kinghood in exchange for His blood.

He was not a Heavenly escapee who would eventually be executed by a vengeful God for His crime.

Israel’s Messiah was not some imitator whose lofty words & claims couldn’t be substantiated.

He didn’t shed His Godhood as a prerequisite for His demotion to earth.

There was nothing spectacular about His earthly parents, His place of birth, or His upbringing.

There was no person, palace, or playground worthy of His presence.

Yet, He came.

In His Heavenly role, there were no restrictions of time and space. On earth, a suit of flesh physically limited His comings and goings.

He was the embodiment of the Word of God¬ spoken from eternity past–ageless, pre-existent, eternal in nature.

He was present at creation.

He walked with Adam, spoke face-to-face with Abraham, wrestled with Jacob, and had conversations with Moses.

He encouraged Joshua; spoke to Job out of a whirlwind, and walked in the midst of a fiery furnace with three Hebrew boys.

However, it was His ministry as the God-man that changed the course of human history.

That was the plan all along.

An angelic host, a handful of shepherds, and some wise men from a far country lauded his incarnation. His very presence threatened governments, religion, and evil.

His adolescence and early adult life are never spoken of, but the world could not contain the amount of books chronicling every event of His final three years of life.

Many celebrated his death, but His resurrection over 2,000 years ago is still the hope of the entire world.

The story didn’t start in a manger. And it didn’t end with an empty tomb.

This Saviour-Messiah’s story is far from finished.

Just as they waited for His first appearance, so we wait with bated breath for the encore.

The next time around, He won’t come to a stable. He won’t be an adorable baby lying in a feeding trough. It won’t take angels, shepherds, or wise men to publicize the event.

The first time He came as Immanuel. The next time we see Him, He’ll be King.

This Christmas, keep Him central. Tell His story. Celebrate His first coming.

But don’t forget, this story is to-be-continued.

Looking for a Visible Kingdom in a Culture of Death

The culture of death has never been so visible. It’s every where you look today. The sanctity of life has lost all meaning.

Another black teenager dies in a drive-by and we just flip the newspaper page because it happened in the same section of town that last week’s shooting occurred. And oh, by the way, he was in a gang. “That’s just life in the inner city”, we say. 
A man is arrested for shooting his wife in a fit of rage and we shrug because there was a history of domestic abuse and no one cared enough to intervene before things got out of control.
New abortion statistics are released and we grieve for a minute, decide to send $15 to our favorite pro-life candidate’s campaign, and we don’t think about it again until the next major election.
A terminally-ill cancer patient moves to a state where euthanasia is legal and we cry for a minute that she decided to take her own life but we do little to address the real issue. 
We hear the stories about countless Mexican lives being lost due to their country’s ever-thriving drug industry and the only concern we have is “guard our borders better so they don’t come here.”
Christians lose their lives by the hundreds in Iraq and we pray for them before chalking it up to radical Islam doing what radical Islam does. 
Ebola kills thousands of men, women, and children in West Africa and we irrationally freak out about the minuscule possibility that a handful of American kids on a mission trip on the other side of the same continent will bring the disease back home with them. 
Where’s the concern? Why aren’t Kingdom people taking a stand for life? 
In this Advent season, we celebrate the Kingdom coming near. The celebration of God sending his own essence in the person of Jesus to this condemned world to redeem all of humankind is what this season is all about.

Yet, even though Christ came and raised up a Church and taught it to be actively involved in all matters of life and death, it decides to stay in the periphery, paying politicians to deal with the issues rather than tackling them head-on. 

Life matters. Every single person made in the image of God matters to God and thus should matter to us, His people. 
Black, white, red, brown, yellow, illegal, elderly, diseased, unborn, mentally-ill, homeless, incapacitated, criminal–they all matter to God. 
Where are the Kingdom people at times like this? Sure, there are ministries helping the hurting. In most cases, however, you have to look with a high-powered microscope to find Kingdom people. 
The Kingdom is strong enough, viable enough, and populous enough to be extremely visible in these tumultuous times.

Kingdom always starts small. It all started with a baby in a manger. 30 years later it was Jesus plus the twelve. A few years later, 120 people carried the Kingdom mandate into the Upper Room. Soon thereafter, that 120 turned into 3,000. And it kept multiplying from there. 2,000-plus years later it should be much more than what we see. 

Life and death is a Kingdom matter. Do what you can, where you can. Reach out. Do not be polarizing in a time when we should be incarnational. 
Stand with the oppressed minority. Pray for the sick. Minister to the homeless. Serve the weak, downtrodden, and lonely. Reach into the ghetto. Help the illegal. 
Every life matters. Every Kingdom-minded Christian is needed. Let’s do the work.