When God donned human flesh and arrived on earth around 2000 years ago, he knew there was a big problem. But God's idea of the problem, and therefore his solution, were a little different than the expectations to which he arrived.
Scriptures foretold a powerful warrior king who would rescue all people and set up an infinite and eternal kingdom of his own. In fact, God-experts and prophets had been talking up a great salvation for hundreds if not thousands of years by the time he got there.
The legalistic few had plenty of time to define the problem: the truest, wildest oppressors were the men and women who ruled over them with a heavy hand, who did not have their best interests in mind.
This problem in clear view, they knew exactly who were looking for: A king who would use military strength to overthrow oppressive governments who were in opposition to their God, culture and way of life.
So it's no wonder when Jesus showed up as a carpenter from the wrong side of Israel, all scraggly and earthy, it was clear he was not the long-awaited Savior.
|photo cred: throughthescriptures.wordpress.com|
Jesus, a guy who doesn't bother to start his ministry until he is 30. Not at all in a rush to solve world hunger by age 25. Not making a run for public office. Hanging out with children and sick people and various vagabonds and ruffians. He just didn't seem to have much of a political agenda.
Sure, he spoke like a man who knew what he was talking about. He had the nation talking, a figure of controversy. He started a movement.
But he was no king.
Don't stop what you're doing and get all bothered with this guy," the teachers of the law urged the people. "He's obviously not the one we're waiting for."
That much was clear. He was NOT who they were waiting for. Jesus was not the answer to their problem.
But God, being God and all, had a wider scope of the problem. He saw human history as impacted by a far greater evil, a much more wicked tyrant: sin. Sin and its deception that we too can be God plunged humanity into its deepest darkness without a plan for self-rescue.
This problem did not touch only one small people group. Everyone alive was under the spell.
So along came Jesus, into the muck. Knowing he would arrive to a people who should be eager to meet him, and yet he would become the nation's greatest disappointment.
Today we still pick the wrong enemy. We magnify the darkness of tyrannical governments and the political agendas of others with whom we disagree, only to miss the world's most horrific evil: the sin and pride in every human heart.
It's in me. It's in you. We all want to be God. This motive is behind every war, every mass genocide, every murder, every hateful thought.
And if it weren't for Jesus, we and the whole earth, would be stuck this way.
But thank God for Jesus, who understood the true oppressor and dealt with it violently. Putting death to death, ripping away its sting forever.
But to live in the freedom we've been afforded, we must identify the problem the same as God does. What evil do we hate most? Is it those who disagree with us or those who vote differently than us? Or do we hate above all things the sin found in our own heart? This is where God can swing in with generous helpings of the grace and freedom Jesus purchased with his death.
As we see our President swear in for four more years, whether we agree with his beliefs and intentions or not, please be conscious of the thoughts and intent of your own heart. Because those are what Jesus died for.
One final note:
We do not hate ourselves - not ever. That is not agreement with God as we are made in his image. To hate self is to hate God. But he despise anything that comes out of us that disagrees with who God is and ask for grace to rebel against it.