Like most of us, there's a part of me that has lost a little faith in humanity over the past couple years. I know that's not the best way to start a "faith" piece, especially over the Christmas season. But hold on - we'll get to that.
In the real world, we as people have taken some significant steps backward in our simple capacity to just do life properly. I won't belabor this, but here are a few examples. We've somehow lost much of our ability to disagree with people without calling them names or trying to humiliate them and their point of view. "Civil discourse" has become painfully uncivil. The recent instances of sexual harassment cases by celebrities and politicians have made prime-time news almost unsuitable to watch with your family. It's no longer even shocking. Terrorism has tragically become a normal occurrence. We no longer gasp when we hear. Trust in government, and those who run it, is at the lowest it has been in my lifetime.
Depressed yet? Feeling that Christmas spirit? Well here's some profound news - Jesus would fit absolutely perfectly here. How do I know? Because it's exactly the kind of setting into which He chose to enter. Paul's letter to the Galatians has this powerful statement: "But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman " Fullness of time? That means at just the right time. It was perfect.
Here's just a tick of historical setting for you. First-century Israel looked a whole lot like we look now. The Zealots were a group of Jews who so violently opposed Roman thought and rule that they tossed "civil discourse" out the window. They wouldn't even come to the table to talk. Sexual harassment? It was so commonplace and accepted that it wouldn't even be called "harassment." Middle-school history taught us the Roman Empire was filled with rampant immorality. And the Jews who opposed Rome weren't exactly Puritans! Terrorism? We've seen a lot, but not even close to the spectacle of Rome crucifying hundreds of criminals very publicly along the streets to attempt to shut down any threat of insurrection. And the trust in government - the Jews hated the government they were under and anyone who sided with Rome. Trust wasn't even on the radar.
And that is the context Jesus chose to enter! It was just like here - only worse (for now). But it was perfect! Because hope, joy, peace and love were offered in abundance by One who understands oppression and pain and heartache. He fit perfectly in first-century Israel because He brought light and truth and compassion, and the Way of Jesus literally changed our world. He fits perfectly here and now as well, and quite honestly I need to change, too. I can't point a finger at a world I live in without recognizing my heart without God in it doesn't look all that different. There is no darkness in the world or in my heart that the light of Christ cannot brighten. He's perfect! For us! Right now!
Mike Yoder is the lead pastor of Christ Community Church in Sumter.