Do you remember Y2K! It has been fifteen years already since the dire predictions of doom and gloom when the clock struck midnight January 1, 2000. So-called experts predicted that computers would crash, the power grid would go down, and general mayhem would break out in every conceivable corner of the globe. Many stock-piled food. On December 31, 1999, we watched the century and millennium turn with our fingernails dug into the arm of the couch—but nothing happened. Well, when I returned to my office, my Windows 95 computer thought it was the year 1883. (I never had that fixed—apologies to my successor.)
And now another new year rushes toward us. They say that time seems to pass more quickly as one ages. Yep, I have a great seat on the time express these days. Didn’t we just put up the Christmas decorations—in 2010?
But things have changed since January 1, 2000. A few of us owned a mobile phone then, probably no more than one per family; today, every member of the family has a smart phone. To access the Internet, we used a dial-up network. As 2015 begins, I have a smart phone, a tablet, and a laptop computer—all with wireless, high speed capability. Social media has exploded and reshaped communication. The “war on terror” has raged for nearly the entire century to date. Our culture’s mores have dramatically turned since Y2K, witness the rapid advance of the cause of same-sex marriage.
When I widen the scope, and consider the changes in my lifetime, since the middle of the twentieth century, I am amazed at the change. Most would call it progress.
And then there is God. Literally, God has seen it all, from Adam to the atomic bomb, from Israel crossing the Red Sea to man landing on the moon, from stone tablets to the iPad. From God’s perspective, with all of the change, has progress been made? Have we made genuine improvements in things that matter to God?
Many things matter to the Lord, but the most important must be the people God created and for whom Christ died. God wants everyone to have a personal relationship with Him. When Jesus was born, there was one Christian—Himself. According to the Pew Forum, in 2010, there were an estimated 2 billion Christians! That’s progress. Churches are not perfect, but God is using churches to connect people to God in an amazing way.
Seven billion people live today without a connection to their Creator and Redeemer. We have an opportunity to change that number, to make more progress.
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:8-9 ESV)
Time is rushing by and time is limited. May God give us the grace of a little more time, so that none perish. And may God empower us to take the Good News to every person.
It’s happening again. The Advent/Christmas season is flying by. I have once again procrastinated on my Christmas shopping, and I promise myself that next year I will try to slow the season down and enjoy it more. Don’t get me wrong I love the season, everything about it. The images. The sounds. The lights. The chill in the air. The Salvation Army kettle. The classic, cheesy Christmas movies.
Yes, it makes me a little angry that the villain of secularism comes along and tries to steal my cherished icons. Nativity scenes disappear from the town square, the grade school Christmas Program has become a Winter Concert, and the department store cashier wishes me a Happy Holidays instead of a Merry Christmas. Christ, indeed, seems to be disappearing from Christmas. I want Christ proclaimed at Christmas.
But I must admit that I also want my cherished Christmas memories to return. If you are like me, perhaps you are guilty of making Christmas a nostalgic flood of memories. The wonder of Christmas in my childhood memories creates an ideal that reality rarely realizes. Added to that are the memories we made with our own children, now grown. I want to soak in the hot bath of yesterday’s wonderful Christmas feelings.
I have set myself up for Christmas disappointment. But wait… the Word of God confronts me with the true wonder and the unfading hope upon which the Christmas season rests. God came down to live with us in the person of Jesus Christ.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:1-5, 14a ESV)
Without doubt, there are agents of darkness working feverishly to extinguish the light. But it is a futile attempt. It cannot be done. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.
The infant Jesus came into a dark, dark world; and the light has shined ever since. Wherever Christ is proclaimed, the light shines. Wherever a community of the Spirit lives out the reality of His presence, the darkness does not overcome it. It began to shine in a manger in Bethlehem and has spread all over the world—in some places a sea of light, in others, a small flame. But it is shining and will always shine. Christmas is the celebration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let it shine!
David L. DeGarmo (D. Min.) serves Global University as Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Theology. Along with his wife Ruth, he is also a U.S. Missionary. He has extensive experience as an educator, missionary, and pastor.
David writes an additional blog on a variety of topics. Check it out...