God Enters Your World
How did God enter your life? Every Christian has a little different story to tell. For some that story goes back to the days before they remember. Loving parents brought them to church, baptism, prayer, and Bible stories from the earliest days of life. For others the journey was longer. They did a lot of searching for God, or running from him, before they came to know him in the person of Jesus Christ.
Sometimes people wonder if God really does enter our lives. Even Christians find him so far away, so quiet, so invisible, so far from helping, so hard to find, that, if he exists at all, he doesn’t seem like he’s a part of their lives. If you have ever felt like that, I can assure you that, no matter how you feel, he IS a part of your life. Long before he ever entered our lives by faith, he became a part of them when Jesus was conceived and born. In the birth of Jesus Christ we see that GOD ENTERS YOUR WORLD. He does so in real time, in a real family, and as a real child.
God enters your world in real time
The telling of Jesus life story that the Bible calls The Gospel According to Luke introduces Jesus’ birth with this historical background: “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register” (Luke 2:1-2). Luke’s introduction tells us that these events took place in real, identifiable, human history. Caesar Augustus and Cyrenius are real men. This Roman census was an actual historical event. That means the birth Luke describes must be one, too.
Let’s not lose sight of that fact. The Christmas story can’t be accused of lacking entertainment value. The journey to Bethlehem, the failure to find room in the inn, the poor couple desparately searching for lodging, the first time mother giving birth in such strange and seemingly untimely circumstances, the appearance of angels, God’s touching the hearts of poor shepherds--all these things are filled with human interest, and emotion, and drama. But more than just a good story, this is a real story.
Do you see why that’s important? The Christian faith is not primarily a set of religious principles for living. These are not merely religious stories with moral lessons. Here God himself is entering your world and becoming a part of it. Here God is taking action to save us and becoming involved in our lives. God presents these truths for more than our study, far more than our entertainment. He presents them for our faith, for our comfort, and for our certainty, because he has done them all in real time.
The way in which he brought it all about is astounding. Sometimes when we look at the humility of Jesus’ birth, the very humanness of it all, it seems as if God were sneaking into our world. He slips in the back door.
But when we see the whole picture, and remember the historical events God caused in order to have Jesus born when and where he wanted, the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth are quite impressive. God made the most powerful ruler in the world decree a census just for this occassion. Practically the whole nation of Israel had to move so that Jesus could be born in the right place. How God must care for you to go to all this trouble! When was the last time anyone else involved world leaders in helping you? When was the last time anyone else changed the lives of an entire nation of people just to get you out of trouble? When God enters your world, he gets his fingers into all of it, and there is nothing that is too much for him to change if it would help you. What a precious truth it is to know that God enters your world in real time.
God enters your world in our real family
But the Lord wants to be closer to you still. He doesn’t stop at involving himself in the events of human history. When God enters your world, he becomes a member in a real family. Luke’s familiar words continue, “So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child” (Luke 2:4-5).
Genealogies in the Bible are never the most exciting part of God’s book. Verse after verse of lists of unfamiliar names don’t make very stimulating reading.
At Jesus’ birth, however, the genealogies suddenly come to life. Both Joseph and Mary belonged to the house of David. They were both branches on the same family tree. Through Luke, and Matthew, and the Old Testament writers, we have genealogies to trace these lines back to King David, and to Abraham, and even to Adam. Through his mother by blood, and Joseph by adoption, as it were, Jesus was born into a real human family. He is a genuine and natural part of the family of mankind.
Why is that exciting? In my own family there is a legend that if you trace back the family tree of my mother’s great-grandpa Hollaway, our family has connections to the British royal line. No one I know has ever carefully researched the claim, but when I was growing up it seemed something of a privilege to think that we might have a touch of royal blood, even if the relationship was very distant.
One thing we know for certain is that we all have a touch of the same blood that flowed through Jesus’ veins flowing through our own. That is a privilege every one of us enjoys. God’s Son was born into a real human family, and somewhere in the past, his family tree and our family trees intersect.
God must dearly love you and me to CHOOSE to become part of our family like this. In one way or another we have all been the black sheep of the family. Our sins ruin the family name. Despite how disreputable the family of mankind has become, Jesus loved us so much that he condescended to join the family anyway. Even more, it is because of those sins that he joined the family and became one of us. Now he can be our substitute in doing the work of taking those sins away. Jesus is qualified to be your Savior because he entered your world as one of us in a real family.
God enters your world as a real child
After saying that, in Jesus, God has entered our world in a real family, the next point seems obvious. But it is also the greatest wonder we have to consider here. God has entered your world as a real child. “While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in strips of cloth, and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:6-7).
If you had the choice, I doubt whether you would choose to live in a world with runaway crime. You would not choose to live in a world where tornadoes or floods can wipe out everything you own in an instant. You would not choose to live in a world with tears and pain and insult and hatred. But Jesus did.
And he lived here without any special advantages. He was equipped to feel it all and experience it all just the way that you and I do. He came as a real child and grew up to be a real man. Luke tells us that when he was born, he was wrapped in strips of cloth, just like all the other babies in his day. If he came this year, it might have been diapers or pampers instead. We see no special privileges or differences. When Mary’s arms eventually grew tired from holding him, and he had to be put down, a makeshift crib had to be found. It ended up being a manger, the dinnerware for the cattle and sheep that were kept there.
As Jesus grew up the pains and inconveniences of living in a world corrupted by sin didn’t change. When he was a little boy, if he fell down and scraped his knee, it would have hurt just like it hurt you when you were little. The pain might have made him cry. He might have gone to his mother for a bandage and a hug to make it better. We know that when he was a man he got tired and thirsty after travelling all day. He cried when his friends died. It hurt him, too. As a real child, and a real man, God experienced life as you do when he entered your world.
He experienced human lovelessness, and coldness, and hostility just like you and I do, too. There was no room for them in the inn. No one cared enough to give up their place to a poor, pregnant woman just about to give birth. No one cared about the health and safety of a new born baby. This coldness and lovelessness was a foretaste of things to come…
On a hill about five miles away from that stable was the place where they crucified criminals in Jerusalem. When God entered your world, he experienced human sin and hostility there, too. But it wasn’t just the coldness and hatred of the people who lived there. We entered Jesus’ world when our very real, very deathly sins were placed on him. He suffered for them all until he experienced a very real, very human death--all so that our sins could be forgiven.
That’s not a truth intended so much to make us pity him, as it is to make us see how much he must love us to enter our world as a real child, a real person like this. Since he has risen from the dead again, he is still a part of our world today, and still enters our lives by faith.God may seem distant when life is full of stress. But can we really say, “Where has God been?” Is it reasonable to think he doesn’t know about our lives? Today you can be sure he is here for you, because you can be sure he was there for you, when God entered your world.