Drought. It hasn’t rained for as long as I can remember.
Catastrophic bushfires. Sydney is smothered in smoke like I’ve never seen before.
At the same time some would say we are moving forward, socially, morally, advancing the human rights of the individual
-Looser laws for abortion in NSW.
-Easier assisted death in Western Australia.
-Same Sex Marriage across the country.
-An increasing mantra of tolerance for all, yet at the same time we see religious freedom under clear and present threat
The oxygen of Christians and others of faith is being constantly questioned, constrained and denied.
Freedom is being violated.
Free speech strangled.
Speech that is deemed 'harmful' is to be removed and denied in the name of tolerance.
But the definition of what is harmful and what is fair game is very slippery.
Harmful because I disagree with it?
Harmful because it calls into questions my moral choices?
It is so one way.
The atheists can say Christians are morons or their books are nothing but fairy tales
Netflix can screen a gay Jesus.
Star Wars can show a lesbian kiss.
That’s all fine, though it is harmful and hurtful to people of faith.
But you can’t quote a Bible verse saying the sexually immoral, thieves, liars and homosexuals will go to hell unless they repent.
Some say that Christianity has long been in ascendancy and its time for the others to rule.
Hardly a sensible response, yet understandable.
When you hear things like that it is clear we are not progressing, we are not evolving anywhere.
I’ve never felt more unwelcome, even ‘at war’ in my own country.
Prince of peace?
So how does the birth of Jesus, the ‘prince of peace’, bring peace on earth?
‘We hear it every Christmas time but hope and history won’t rhyme…’
‘Peace to all men’
World environment is in disarray because of our breach with God.
We stepped out of his authority and made ourselves God. We built our tower and now the foundations are crumbling under our feet as we cling to a few bricks because we think they still offer some form of security in our short life spans.
The environmental havoc we see around us, from polluted oceans to raging bushfires and hurricanes, tell us all is not well under our rule. We have made a hash of ruling the world.
While it is foolish to tie specific events of disaster to specific ‘sins’ as Israel Folau recently did, because we don’t know all of God’s reasons for permitting such events and Jesus himself refuses to so, we can say that all our problems, sickness, environmental catastrophes do stem from our ‘general sin’ of turning our backs on God, making ourselves equal with God.
Significantly the arrival of Jesus, the first Christmas, announces a human king’s ascent to a throne equal but also approved and ordered by God.
His throne is not alien to us, for he is fully human.
His throne does not usurp God, like ours does, for he is fully God and God has appointed him through his resurrection from the dead.
His appointment is not wrought through vile arrogance as ours has been. Instead his appointment to the throne is through self-effacing, humility and obedience rather than rebellion against God.
A representative who accurately bears our image to God and God to us.
A king who removes our personal and collective offence and guilt before God.
A king who restores the world as it should be, aligned under God, under the feet of his appointed servant.
We share the blessing of this restored world when we lose our arrogance and come under Christ’s rule.
Reconciled to God, we begin to rule through the power of Jesus, over disorder and death.
Peace UNDER the king
We show this rule in godliness, servanthood and even care for the environment.
Christians should be leading stewards of the earth’s resources
We should be green
We value the world because it is God’s world and we are given the responsibility to care for it.
We affirm the world still, because the prince of peace has come who affirms the world.
But our hope isn’t in this world.
Our hope is in a new heaven and new earth.
Jesus is the promise, his Spirit the down payment that it will come.
So, we look forward to a complete peace.
A restored and remade world.
Not yet...but it's started
What we can expect now is progress and failures.
Wars and rumours of wars.
But peace to all men comes from men and women of all nations accepting this king, Jesus as their king.
Then go down the guns and the hate.
Collaboration and service replace competition and self- interest.
Many nations bleed into one, honouring each other and considering one another more important because of the love God has modelled to them in Christ their king.
Personal grievances are dropped.
Wisdom to care for the environment finds a common ground for action, across borders.
So, preach that good news, preach the king this Christmas so many more might know that true, deep and lasting peace of Christ Jesus.
Merry Christmas, from Anton!