Truce or Transformation
In December of 1914, German and British troops were fighting in the muddy trenches of the Western Front. But on Christmas Day the two armies declared a one-day truce. The soldiers came out of their trenches, shook hands, and spent the day as friends. They shared a meal together, played a soccer game, and even exchanged little mementos.
This true story illustrates how people often think about Christmas – that it makes people a little nicer and brings a small measure of peace on earth and good will toward men. But of course on December 26 the German and French troops crawled back into their trenches, took up their weapons, and resumed their attempts to kill one another.
Many people believe that the Christmas season itself has a kind of magic that can make the world a better place. Even folks who don’t believe in Jesus may think of Christmas sentimentally; they may even try to be nicer and more generous for a few days.
I understand – I feel – those sentimental feelings. When I was a boy we didn’t talk about Jesus, but Christmas filled me with wonder. The lights and tinsel and silver bells and presents did seem magical.
While it’s true that Christ’s coming to a manger in Bethlehem gives us a reason to try harder, to be kinder and gentler toward one another, Jesus came to do much more than that. On our own, with the glow of lights around us and Christmas carols in our hearts, we might be able to declare a truce for a day or two. But God knows that what we need is not a truce, but a transformation.
God sent His Son to be more than an inspiration. He sent Him to die as a propitiation – as a sacrifice to turn away the wrath of God. He sent Him to die to redeem us and to transform us.
If all humanity needed was a sentimental boost, God would never have sent His son. An angelic choir or two and a good prophet could have done the trick.
But God intends to bring eternal peace to rebels like you and me. And He was willing to take the unbelievably drastic step to accomplish that – by sacrificing His own Son for us.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:9-12, ESV).