To Us a Child is Born

A THOUGHT FOR THIS CHRISTMAS WEEK…

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders… and of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Government. Does that word strike a positive note in you, or negative? Of course, we’re used to complaints about “government” because governing often falls into the hands of imperfect people who build their own kingdoms and bureaucracies, and then they become ends unto themselves, and “government” becomes a massive monster needing to be fed to stay alive.

It’s a shame government has gotten such a bad name–because we all need it. The ungoverned life is chaos, anarchy, and injustice. With no governing, people would not volunteer to pitch in for the common good, and they would be unwilling to enact laws that impinge on their prerogatives. And so government is a necessary constraint on our impulses and independence, a way for a person to say “I need to have standards in my life, and I know I and my neighbors need to live under those standards for them to be meaningful.”

God knows we need governing. That’s why he calls himself King, Shepherd, Master, Lord, Father. And when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the world gained the greatest governor the world had ever known.

Have you ever looked at someone with the responsibility of governing and wondered how he or she can bear up under the sheer weight of the responsibility? Good news here. “The government will be on his shoulders.” Governing–real, life-shaping authority–ultimately rests on Christ’s shoulders. Now there is a future time when he will reign as undisputed ruler, but in the meantime he is exercising considerable governing power. Since Bethlehem the world has changed. It is not that evil has disappeared, but its counter–the power of Christ–has been triumphant in one life after another.

We can thank God this Christmas that he did not leave us to our chaotic, ungoverned state. A shepherd- king came to stand in the Davidic line, not to be like other kings, but to govern our lives from the inside out.

Prayer for Today: Lord, I confess that there is much in me that does not want to be governed. Help me to see joy in the fact that your governing will never end, and because of that, peace will increase.

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