Have you seen this on a billboard? “Don’t make me come down there. – God” I hate this billboard.
I hate it because it perpetuates the idea that our God is aggravated, annoyed, or just plain mad at us. We are down here messing up His world and His plan and He may, begrudgingly, have to come intervene. But this is not the God revealed in Jesus.
The God revealed in Jesus is a God who comes to rescue. He is a God motivated not by frustration or anger but by love and mercy. A God who longs for every person to be free from the sin and the darkness that bring destruction to His creation. He is a God who lays aside His power and privilege in order to come serve and teach and touch and save those far from Him.
And He has already come. As it says in Joy to the World, “The Lord is come.” He is with us. Both at the first Christmas and even still today. God is with us. We don’t have to worry that God is just within earshot and may burst in at any moment to deliver our punishment.
He is with us. Not against us. Not mad at us. Not dragging us around like a mom trying to finish the shopping with all her children in tow. He is with us. He is with us when we struggle and with us when we fall. With us when life seems out of control and when we are walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Our God is with us.
When he showed up in the flesh angels announced that it was “Good news of great joy for all people.” Not good news for a few lucky shepherds. Not good news for those who have it all together. Good news for all people. All people from all places. Good news for the religious and the non-religious. Good news for those opposed to God and good news for those trying to their best to be faithful. He is with us to show us the way and the truth and the life.
When Jesus moves into the neighborhood it is good news of great joy because what Jesus offers is so much better than what the world offers or your favorite politician offers or what money offers or what self-indulgence offers. He offers us the life we were intended for from the very beginning. And even when He asks us to lay down the things we desire (our priorities or our guilty pleasures or our comfortable positions or our very lives) He gives us life to the fullest in exchange. The more I let go of the things I think I want or need, the more I find good news in the message of Jesus. We discover those things we are holding onto can be full of death and decay, but Jesus is full of life and light.
Yes, He will come again and yes death and sin and darkness will be destroyed. But He is here now to lead us out and set us free. To bring us hope and make us whole.
When we feel broken and when we feel lost. When we feel unworthy and when we feel unable. He is here to remedy those things. Jesus, God with us, invites all of humanity to come to Him and experience his Good News. Like we sing in the old carol, “Come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant.”
And come all ye unfaithful too. Come all you who feel defeated and feel like the darkness is winning. Come you who hunger and thirst. Come you who carry heavy burdens. Come those who are worn out. Come you who are stressed and at the end of your rope. Come all who feel dirty and unlovable. Come you who grieve. Come you who feel betrayed. Come all who blew it big time this year. And last year. Come doubters and skeptics. Come all you disenfranchised. Come you anxious and come you hiding behind a façade. Come all you who have been pushed out. Come wanderers and seekers. Come legalists and hypocrites. Come pastors and tax collectors. Come and see.
For today a Savior has been born for you. For you.
His name is Jesus and He is Christ the Lord.
And that, my friends, is Good News.