Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Waiting Bethlehems

For you know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich. -- 2 Corinthians 8:9 (NASB)

This verse is a beautiful summary of the incarnation. Two brief comments on it:
  • Jesus didn't have to do any of this. He could have never left heaven, never become poor, never died for our sins, sent us all to hell -- and still been perfectly right. He went beyond, far beyond, mere duty. That's why this verse calls it "grace".
  • Jesus could not make us rich without becoming poor Himself. We see this in the connecting word "that". "He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich." There was no comfortable shortcut to blessing us. Simply sending us messages through the prophets wouldn't do it. Prophets can show us our sins but cannot redeem us from them. Remember Jesus in the garden? "If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me." It wasn't possible for us to avoid the cup of God's wrath unless Jesus drank it. He did. So we can be rich with the true Treasure, enjoying God for ever.
Now I want to take these two points and apply them to us. Jesus incarnated into one Bethlehem. Today, thousands of Bethlehems still wait for an incarnation of Jesus. We who follow Jesus are His body, His representatives on earth. Do you know how many people have never personally met a true Christian?
  • The question is not, "Do I have to go?" If that's our attitude, maybe we're better off staying in our comfort zone. Jesus didn't have to go either.
  • We won't be able to reach the lost safely. We cannot save others painlessly any more than Jesus did. Evangelism by printed page, by TV, by radio, by internet, is good but insufficient. Lost people must see a living, flesh and blood, demonstration of Jesus. Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia and China and India and the many other dark places of the world will not be won to the Crucified solely by words from afar. We cannot make them rich without becoming poor.
"For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake." -- 1 Thessalonians 1:5 (NASB)

Your Bethlehem awaits. Will you go?

1 comment:

  1. Think of the most powerful people in all of history. I think the Pharos or rulers of the Persion Empire were the most powerful, with unlimited power over the people. They could kill anyone they wanted for whatever reason. People would prostrate before them out of fear when they passed by, knowing that on a whim they could be dragged away and tortured and killed. They had virtually unlimited wealth and there was nothing they could not have. Did any of them ever voluntarily leave their position to live as a commoner? Yet that what Jesus did for us. God is by far more powerful than any individual ever has been or could be, yet he voluntarily left that post to walk with us, to become like us, and ultimatiley to die for us in a very cruel and painful way. We can not evern come close to understanding the love God has for all of us.