God’s way of saving the world

As part of an Advent service, I was asked to speak on a question: “What is the significance of Christ?” Ideally, my presentation needed to take about three or four minutes.  Here’s what I wrote.

What is the significance of Christ? There’s nothing ambitious about such a title is there? No matter that countless sermons, reflections, learned works, popular books, creeds, poems, hymns, confessions and four canonical Gospels tackle the question and provide only partial answers! Surely, I can provide a hip pocket sized answer we can carry away with us.

Probably not! But here is what I can do. A few days ago, someone brought the title of a popular piece of Christian music to my attention: “A Strange Way to Save the World.” I have no idea of the song’s content or sing-ability, but the title strikes me as apt to my subject. When we stop and think even a bit, the Incarnation is a strange way to save the world.

In the Incarnation, God speaks not a word of condemnation, but instead declares only good will and love toward all.

In the Incarnation, God makes no effort to change the mind of the world or anyone by argument, but instead only through a life.

In the Incarnation, God employs no violence of any kind on behalf of God’s agenda, but instead practices self-sacrifice without limits.

Astounding, isn’t it? This is not the way most of us most of the time try to save the world. We prefer to bludgeon one another with words, mark off boundaries some may not cross, and make those pay who will not speak our particular theological language. Why, if God had put us in charge of saving the world, things would have been done quite differently, thank you very much!

But God did not put us in charge. And that’s a good thing! God did not set out to save the world the way most of us try to save the world. Instead, God set out to save the world God’s way.

That’s the significance of Christ. Christ is God’s way of saving the world. Thanks be to God!

Mike Smith

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Mike Smith serves as Senior Pastor of Central Baptist Church of Fountain City, Knoxville, Tenn. He is co-author of "Mount and Mountain: A Reverend and a Rabbi Talk About the Ten Commandments."

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