Jesus in the Details
Last December the results of a poll taken in the U.K. revealed that only 12% of adults in Britain have a detailed knowledge of the Christmas story – and that the figure drops to 7% for those in 18-24 age range. Culture warriors will hear the results as one more call to take up arms and drive the heathen from the schoolrooms and courthouses of our land – after all, the British are usually just a few years ahead of us when it comes to such things.
If you read the full story, however, you soon discover that even in secular Britain 73% of the population has the Mary and Joseph, Bethlehem and shepherds parts of the story more or less right. May be things aren't as bad as they seem.
Things probably aren't as bad as the cultural alarmists would have us believe. Does it matter if you don't know about the flight to Egypt or that John was Jesus' cousin? Well, it matters if you want to be the winner the next time your family breaks out the Bible Edition of Trivial Pursuit. And it matters if you think the Christmas story means as much in the Twenty-First Century as it did in the First Century. It matters if you want to get Jesus off the front of a Hallmark card and into the restless hearts that will find no rest until they find their rest in him.
Jesus was not born into a greeting card world. He was born into a world of a tyrant king who would sacrifice the lives of innocent children to insure his place on a throne of the earth. And he was born at exactly the right time, a time that would be marked, in God's time, by one whose voice would be heard in the wilderness crying, "Prepare the way of the Lord."
Jesus continues to come into a world of tyrants, pain and suffering. And still it is the world where his sovereign will is done in the lives of those whose hearts prepare him room.
If all we know about the story is that it has something to do with Mary and Joseph and some place called Bethlehem, it will remain a Christmas card picture with no more to do with our lives than those cards showing a snowman or a beer wagon. But if we know the story, believe the story, live the story, it will change not only our lives, but our Twenty-First Century world.
To be sure, bring your family, as you always do, to worship on Christmas Eve. But you may also want to bring a friend or neighbor who knows the tyranny of hurt, addiction, job loss, or loneliness. The story is, especially, for them.
Jesus in the Details