“Why Like This?: A Christmas Meditation”

whylikethis.png The audio of this week’s message, “Why Like This?: A Christmas Meditation” (Mark 4:30-32) is now online.

(Spoiler alert: I’m preaching this sermon this coming Sunday morning at NHC, so you can skip the podcast if you’ll be hearing it there.)

Most of our community groups are not meeting this week, so there are no sermon discussion questions.

A key quote to reflect on as you prepare for conversations around Christmas dinners:

“Why entrust the spread of the Kingdom of God to people like us?  People who are sinful.  People who are cowardly.  People who sit down next to a friend or a family member or a coworker or a stranger who needs Christ and we can’t manage to speak a word about the King because we’re afraid of feeling awkward.  Why entrust the spread of the Kingdom of God to people who have made an idol out of comfort? Why entrust the spread of the Kingdom of God to people who, on average, spend 22 times more time absorbing television and the internet each week that they spend absorbing the word of God? That’s not what you want to do if you want to build a Kingdom.

So, why this way?  Why a kingdom that comes not by force but by good news proclaimed by sinners?  Why a King that doesn’t hang back and observe the battle, but sacrifices himself at the outset of the campaign?  Why a vulnerable, fragile, dependent child as a savior?  Why a mustard seed?  The answer is that God wants there to be no mistake that the glory is His.  His Kingdom will come and his will will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  And all glory, praise and honor will belong to him.  The story of the ‘mustard seed-like Kingdom’ ends with the seventh angel proclaiming: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”  It ends with the song, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!’ and ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

That’s where all of this is headed.  And the unique—almost nonsensical—way God’s kingdom is unfolding is meant to point to that.  To point to the fact that all glory belongs to God because no human could have thought this plan up or carried it to completion.  Only God.

But the end is not yet.  In the meantime, the mustard seed is growing.  This is what Christmas is about.  It’s not just about Jesus birthday.  Christmas is about being invited in.  It’s about being invited in to participate in the spread of the strangest, most improbable, most inconceivable and yet the most powerful, most glorious, most irresistible Kingdom the world has ever seen. It’s about being invited in to participate in God’s Kingdom-expansion project through the proclamation of the gospel; through the telling of the story of the God that died to rescue his people.”

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3 thoughts on ““Why Like This?: A Christmas Meditation””

  1. Just so everyone is aware, while those who self identify themselves as Christian is still the largest religious group in the world, the percent has been dropping.

    Here is a report with some data to that effect.

    Also the percent who self identify as Christian has been dropping most significantly in the industrialized world, including the United States. Should the developing world be sending missionaries to us?

    Granted those who self identify as Christian may not truly know Christ, but the numbers are still helpful to understand where things stand. Are we able to convert the “Christians” as well as the non-Christians?

    Can God’s kingdom be in retreat?

  2. Lyle, I think it’s better to say that rather than being in retreat, the divisions are being made more clear now. It wasn’t culturally appropriate to be non-Christian in this country 80 years ago… it is now. That doesn’t mean that there are less true Christians in America, but that those who were “cultural Christians” no longer feel pressure to remain so.

  3. It is true that the division between a true believer and a cultural Christian is becoming more distinct. What I am wondering about is, is true faith in Christ taking over, or is it just holding on? The bible seems to present a kingdom which grows and in short order takes over the world.

    It’s been almost 2,000 years now. Coca-cola hasn’t been around for 200 years, and it has a better market penetration rate (i.e. more people in the world have drank a Coke than has heard the gospel.)

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