The Birth that Changed the World
Hurry up! You’ve only got 10 minutes to get upstairs to practice with the choir.” I quickly acknowledged my teacher’s instruction, grabbed my guitar, and ran up the two flights of stairs to the auditorium of my public high school.
The choir was warming up as I arrived. The biggest role in the Christmas concert was always the lead-female solo of “O Holy Night.” But it was my senior year, and the choir director gave me the opportunity to sing a duet on “What Child Is This?” as I played my guitar. I was so excited!
Christmas was only a few weeks away, and our school was ready to celebrate this most wonderful of holidays. Christmas trees stood in almost every classroom. Stockings, cards, small Nativity scenes, candy canes, and other festive decorations were taped to the drab metal doors of our lockers, transforming the sterile hallways into a veritable Christmas avenue. Even the bulletin boards were decked with Christmas cheer.
As Christmas grew closer, carols could be heard in the halls; and warm greetings of “Merry Christmas” passed from faculty to students and back again. Several teachers, each armed with a violin, strolled down the corridors singing and playing the hymns of Christmas. Even the lunchroom got into the festivities. My favorite must-buy lunch of the year was the Christmas feast of turkey and all the fixings. It was an absolutely fantastic time of year.
How different public school is today. Almost everything identified with Christmas has been eradicated, even the holiday’s name. “Christmas break” has given way to “winter recess.” Gone are the Christmas symbols, references to the Nativity, the beautiful carols, and often even the decorative trees.
The world in its ignorance wants to remove Christ from Christmas. In fact, it wants to remove Him from everything. But Jesus’ birth changed the world, and nothing will ever be the same.
More than 2,000 years ago, God the Son entered time and space, took on a physical body, and was born in a manger in Bethlehem of Judea because God so loves a world that hates Him. He came for a predetermined purpose: “to redeem those who were under the law” (Gal. 4:5).
An angel told Jesus’ stepfather, Joseph, “You shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins” (Mt. 1:21). Jesus was born for the express purpose of dealing with humanity’s number one problem—sin—by providing the one thing it needs most: redemption:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (Jn. 3:16–17).
Instead of thanking Jesus, the world rejects and denies Him and attempts to obliterate the entire reality of what Christmas is about. The biggest gift-giving season of the year came about because of God’s incomparable gift of Jesus who is the physical manifestation of God’s tremendous love for us. Love is the very heart of the Christmas story.
Despite the Adversary’s best attempts, he will never succeed in eradicating the meaning of Christmas or its wonderful message of forgiveness of sin. Every day someone somewhere is heeding the gospel’s call and giving his or her life to the Messiah of Israel. Scripture says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). Countless millions down through history have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and been saved.
I would venture to say there’s not a public school left in America where the most coveted concert performance is the singing of “O Holy Night.” Nor is there likely to be one where teachers roam the halls like troubadours, singing the melodious Christmas carols we have loved for years.
Yet nothing will ever alter the fact that Jesus’ birth changed the world. It made it possible for people everywhere regardless of color, creed, or national origin to have forgiveness of sin and a personal relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And one day, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10–11).