I must admit, at times I have apprehension when viewing the local news webpage, because I fear what I’m going to read. I live in what I still consider a very safe city, yet the violence continues to escalate. My home city has already had more homicides in 2015 than in 2014, and we still have a month to go in the year. Add to this the seemingly constant barrage of shootings involving non-life threatening injuries, and it’s a wonder there is anyone alive. The violence is continuing to mount. Even with the local police department actively working to curb the violence, it seems to grow on a daily basis. In addition to the local violence are the recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. It almost seems that violence is the new norm.
Violence is the result of sin. Violence is not just physical death, but also involves emotional violence caused by anger and hatred from another. Violence happens because we choose our own way over God’s way. Violence happens because I demand my way to such an extreme that I’m willing to do whatever I have to do to obtain it, even if that means hurting someone else emotionally or physically. Violence happens because we are self-consumed with our own way. We have to have our way and we will not stop until we get it.
In reality, that characterizes all sin. Sin happens because we want our way more than God’s way. Sin is me choosing that even if an action is unhealthy for me or others I’m still going to engage in it because I’m selfish and I want my own way. When I’m selfish and become consumed with having my way I reach a point where I don’t care who I hurt in order to feed my need for self-gratification.
We know this attitude is not healthy. There isn’t a single person reading this who wants to sin. There isn’t a single person reading this who wakes up in the morning and declares, “this is going to be a great day for sinning.” We want to honor God and live righteous lives. Yet, no matter how hard we try, we continue to mess up. The reality is we can’t escape our sin problem. It’s a theme that runs through the course of history. Humans are incapable of overcoming the problem of sin. Sin continues to breed havoc in our lives, and we can’t overcome it.
That’s why the words of God in Isaiah 65 are so important. “For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating.” (Isaiah 65:17-18a) God is creating a new starting point. God is promising to come into our lives and come into the world and create a radical new work that will change the course of history. God is making things new, so much so that the old and former ways, the ways of sin and death, will be remembered no more. God is bringing hope to the world.
That’s the beauty of this time of year, this Christmas season; it is predicated on hope. Two thousand years ago in Bethlehem God came near. Two thousand years ago the heavens split open and the angels proclaimed “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth, for unto you this night a child is born.” Two thousand years ago the Christ child was born and hope came to earth. The promise that God made to create something new started to change the course of history. And it’s not just hope for some future day, but it is hope for this very moment. The loneliness that you feel. The hurt in your marriage. The feelings of depression and meaninglessness. Those feelings don’t have to define you. Your constant struggles with sin. The violence in the world around you, and the violence in your own life. Those don’t have to define you. God is making something new.
Which is why there is hope for the world. The message that we have to share during this season is not just joy at the birth of the baby Jesus, or even a thankful, gracious, and giving attitude, but is instead a message of hope. We can tell the world that because of the Christ child there is hope. Because of the Christ child the future is brighter than the past. Because of the Christ child evil can be destroyed and peace can reign. Because of the Christ child, no matter what issue in your life is causing despair, that issue does not have to remain. God is making all things new. There is hope. The Christ child was born.