Making sense of life and the various, often contradictory, diversity of human experiences has been a challenge that has plagued human beings for millennia. Attempts to answer the simple but perplexing evasive question: ‘What is the meaning of life?’, have preoccupied philosophers, anthropologists, humanists, and scientists alike.
It could be argued that the religious-minded individuals are most favourably placed to stumble across, or be rewarded, with the answer to that question, following a period of heartfelt self-examination, even introspection, and an intentional pursuit after God. It is a reasonable proposition and my starting point.
For me, the Gospel of Jesus Christ offers both a convincing and compelling account of the tragedy and glory of the human race, and of God’s relentless pursuit of, and longing for, a relationship with human beings. Isaiah, an Old Testament prophet, describes the human race as ‘being like sheep and everyone going their own way’ (Isaiah 53:6).
Isaiah 53 forms part of what Bible scholars refer to as ‘The Servant Songs’. They are series of chapters in the book of Isaiah that refer simultaneously to their contemporary historical context, while at the same time pointing to a future historical reality: the coming of the Redeemer Christ, who will die on a cross and restore a previously broken, lost humanity into a relationship with the Creator God of Genesis Chapter 1. Isaiah’s prophecy is consistent with the prophetic words delivered by God Himself, when He passed sentence on Adam and Eve following their disobedience in the Garden of Eden.
One of the things that contribute to my conviction that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the authentic way to salvation and a restored relationship with God is the sheer audacity of the premise of the story. God becomes a Man (John 1:4); lives a sinless life (2 Corinthians 5:21); dies an atoning death; triumphantly rises from the dead (Ephesians 1:19-21); returns back to heaven (Acts 1:9), and reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:5). That would not be my starting point for faith I wanted people to follow! The bar is set too high, and the expectation for individuals, families, communities, even whole societies to follow is unreasonable when considered logically. I would have made it easier.
However, that is God’s starting point. It requires faith. Faith is a prerequisite for a relationship with God (Hebrews 11:6), and therefore encountering Christ. That is the Christmas story I will be celebrating on December 25th, 2021. I am not distracted by the fact that it may be a historical fact that Christ was not born on that particular day. History is only as certain as the last piece of evidence that is discovered, and sheds further light on what we already know. The fact is that Christ was born – the historical evidence of His birth is beyond dispute, and is comparable to any other significant historical figure we know.
The Christmas story still amazes me. It is a story of relentless and furious love that pursues humanity as a whole – and you and I as unique and invaluable individuals – and offers us a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, who died for our sins, and created a pathway to God the Father. Christ realised the conditions for God’s Spirit to live in us. The Apostle Paul, the writer of the majority of the New Testament, refers to the Christian Gospel as ‘an unspeakable or indescribable gift.’ How right he is!
Christ came that we ‘might have life and have it to the full’ (John 10:10). Given the past 18 months or so, these words have taken on a greater significance than at any other time in my life. If we have learnt anything at all, it is to ‘seize the moment’, make our lives count, and be ready to meet with our Maker when our time comes. So, in the Name of Christ, I wish you the most wonderful, faith-focused, family/friends-centred, and fun-filled Christmas, and a prosperous 2022.
Written by: David Shosanya