Again and again in the nativity narratives communication somehow breaks down. The story of Jesus’ birth begins with scrambled communications, but that is not where the story ends. In the course of the story, God works through imperfect people to give them the perfect gift of the Messiah.
My favorite image of Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-16). I’ve never come close to laying down my life to save our sheep from wolves or coyotes. I don’t camp outside with them in a desert, or lead them for miles to find food and water. But I do care deeply for these gentle creatures. In their quiet acceptance of God’s Will—just being what they are—they teach me to trust that “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23), no matter what.
My wife, Lenore, and I have dealt with a great many people who, because of various circumstances in their life, are unable to feel loved—by God or anyone else. In fact, they often describe how they feel as “numb” or “empty.” They often view themselves as unattractive, unlovable, and worthless. This is in spite of the fact that many of these people are considered successful in their chosen field.
With the emphasis on relativism and situational ethics in popular culture, one might wonder if there truly are any absolutes to guide us as Christians. Perhaps we can excuse any or all behavior or lifestyle on the basis of “that’s just the way God made me—besides, Jesus paid the price for my sin so everything’s cool!”
Internal critique is as vital as contriteness for maintaining vibrancy in the life of the Church. The New Testament promotes the salutary practice of gentle admonishment among Christians. Paul apparently had this in mind when he penned the phrase “speaking the truth in love.”
Listen to a sermon by David Pileggi delivered at the Narkis Street congregation in Jerusalem.
Let’s consider how Jesus would have responded to the damage and loss of life wrought by Katrina. He no doubt would have said, “Do you think these people in New Orleans were worse sinners than all the rest? No, and unless you repent you will also perish” (compare Luke 13:1-5). In other words, this disaster (and all others) should serve to remind us that we need to urgently and seriously examine our own lives!