Thursday, December 17, 2015
Luke 2:1-6 "Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. 2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, 5 in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. 6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth."
The human predicament is a phrase used by Christian thinkers to describe human life lived in such a way as to assume the non-existence of God and the denial of life after death. Thinkers such as the late Christian theologian Francis Shaeffer called such an approach to life: "The absurdity of life without God". Both God's existence and the concept of immortality (or life after death) constitute what is the necessary foundation for having meaning, value and purpose in this life. Today's post wants to consider how the Christmas accounts deliver to us none-other than God Himself as well as immortality.
Why life is meaningless without immortality and without God, and how Jesus came to deliver both.
Without immortality – there is no ultimate significance. Our brief lives are not long enough to achieve such. Even legacies, at best, last centuries without being reinterpreted and forgotten. We have eternity written on our hearts, as Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes. Without God, we have no obligation to live good and do good in this life. Without the moral lawgiver, there is no morality, no meaning and thus – no purpose.
Now when we think of the opening text in today's blog, we see life carrying on historically and personally. Caesar's census is a true fact of history. Not only does Luke prove to be a reliable source for recording this event in which we find Mary and Joseph, but other sources outside the Bible - such as the Jewish Historian Flavius Josephus, also record this general event. The birth of Jesus is described as none other than the appearance of God in human flesh (1 Timothy 3:16). Moreover, this little baby would grow up to be a man, who would die and then rise from the dead three days following His crucifixion. Jesus of Nazareth was indeed truly man, however He was more than a man, since at the same time He ever remained truly God (John 1:14; Colossians 2:9). Hence, Jesus Christ in both His incarnation and resurrection delivered personally the meaning of life by making available God Himself and the hope of life with God after death. Such realities bring the necessary meaning needed to live out meaningful lives in this world.
Why life is valueless without immortality and without God, and how Jesus came to deliver both.
God and immortality answer the questions: who has the right to tell me how I ought to live? And “why live how I ought to live?” Value cannot be discerned apart from a reference point with which to measure good, evil and meaning.
When we think again about what the incarnation and resurrection of Jesus achieved, we see that Jesus Christ validates and personally delivers not only the moral foundation but spiritual power to live out the moral values and duties embedded within the fabric of the universe. We know that our world is not only physical, but moral in nature. To have in the Gospels the paragon of perfection - Jesus Christ - is to have the embodiment of the very base-line of all morality and meaning. Whether believer or unbeliever, objective moral values and duties bear on the human heart that sense of "oughtness". That is to say, there is a God to Whom I'm accountable ("oughtness"). The duties deal with those actions that demand accountability to an ultimate authority. Jesus Christ, and His redemption, deliver the power to the person who responds to the quickening work of the Spirit. Hence, Jesus Christ gives us the value of life - since He delivers to us God and the hope of life-after-death.
Why life is purposeless without immortality and without God, and how Jesus came to deliver both.
God and immortality affirm a direction, an overall narrative and point to the universe. Moreover, the purpose is defined by the grandeur of the origin and the extraordinary means employed to reach the purpose or end point.
Once more the incarnation and resurrection of Jesus Christ speaks to the provision of life's purpose. Jesus Christ as God incarnate delivers to me God on a one-on-one level at the moment of saving faith. In Jesus Christ there is an ultimate purpose to life. We discover in the Bible that Jesus is coming back to bring history to a close (see Titus 2:13). Furthermore, in Jesus the immortal life of hope that is looked forward to after death is fore-tasted by way of the new-life and new nature He delivers by the Spirit at salvation. As the old song states: "Heaven came down and glory filled my soul".
So, Jesus Christ delivers to us God and immortality, and thus provides life's meaning, value and purpose. Through Jesus alone can we escape the absurdity of life that attempts to conduct itself under the false assumption that there is no God and no immortality.