Dr. Charles Revis, Executive Minister, ABC of the Northwest
He was sent from God. He was not sent to shed new light on the human condition. He was not sent to be the greatest of all moral examples. He was not sent to point us towards some inner spark of divinity already residing within us. He was sent to redeem! ~ Galatians 4:3-5 NIV
When it comes to the Christmas season I find myself pulled between two poles: The “Splendor of the Season Pole” and the “Bah! Humbug Pole”. When I wrestle with a tangled cord of Christmas lights, half of which are not working, I am pulled towards the “Bah! Humbug Pole." On the other hand, when I am celebrating communion in the midst of flickering candles reflecting on the mystery of the Incarnation I am pulled towards the “Splendor of the Season Pole."
Christmas is a study in contrasts. There is the contrast between cheap tinsel on a tree and the “gold” of wrapped presents underneath. There is the contrast between the crass commercialization of the season and the greater meaning of gift-giving that is the season’s very foundation. There is the contrast between the announcement of peace unto all the world and the ugly reality of war’s constant presence. It’s a season of contrast; a season of dark and light.
Before the first Christmas the world was cloaked in darkness. Evil, death, bondage and decay reigned supreme. But, then light entered the world. Eternal light. That light was not a new philosophy, or self-help program, or even the birth of a new religion. That light was the pre-existent Word, the second person of the Trinity, who donned human flesh and became one of us.
He was sent from God. He was not sent to shed new light on the human condition. He was not sent to be the greatest of all moral examples. He was not sent to point us towards some inner spark of divinity already residing within us. He was sent to redeem!
Redemption language finds its true context in the realm of slavery. In the ancient world slavery was a fact of life for a great number of people. A slave could be freed if someone paid the owner the value of his property. Once the price was paid, the slave could be released into a new life of freedom. Some slaves were set free in this way. Another path to freedom transpired when a wealthy, childless man would adopt a young slave. Then the owner would trade the young man’s slavery for sonship. This resulted in special dignity and family membership to someone who would otherwise be a slave.
God sent Jesus to redeem. He paid the price that releases us from bondage (the condemning law, sin, death, addictions…the list is long). In doing so He made it possible for us to become sons of God. Through Jesus’ redemption we move from slavery into sonship, from bondage to release, from captivity to freedom. Now, that’s a study in contrast! And, it’s exactly what God set in motion when He sent His Son into the world at that first Christmas.
What God did in sending His Son to redeem us should be at the heart of a church’s motivation for ministry. Just as the Son was sent, so too, is the church sent. God sends His sons and daughters into the world proclaiming the Good News of redemption. He sends us into a dark world, just as He sent His Son, to be light and hope and blessing… that eventually the world will be turned from darkness into light, from bondage to freedom. This is our mission. A mission that was first launched in the heart of God and is now working out its full effects until that day when the world is completely and wholly made.
2009 © Dr. Charles Revis, ABC Northwest
[This article is from Dr. Revis’ blog, www.missionnorthwest.blogspot.com]