I had the privilege of being Stacia’s pastor for a number of years. She is a woman who loves Jesus and people—what a powerful combination! As you read this article you will be encouraged to meet people where they are. It is from this starting point that God can do amazing things. Stacia is one of us and isn’t it amazing that Jesus came as one of us too! The Light of the World shines in us and through us. There is no darkness that is too dark for light to conquer. Let’s join with Stacia and let Jesus shine!
Rev. Nick Mundis, Director
North American Mission
My close relative is a self-proclaimed “skeptical deist.” He believes in God, but his idea of the Creator is hands-off, with no Trinity or Bible or active involvement in our lives. During our many theological discussions, I’ve shared examples of my “God-incidences” (the name my mother always called Divine non-coincidences), relayed countless anecdotes of times I’ve prayed for something impossible that God then made possible, and even told stories of my kids’ chilling “God-incidences.” And this relative has come close to believing in the gospel a time or two. But there’s always one hurdle he just can’t get over.
“Even if the things you say are true,” he once said, “even if I accept the idea that Jesus miraculously left that tomb and ascended into heaven, what’s the point? If God is all-powerful and can restore my soul on his own, then why Jesus?”
Why Jesus? I suddenly realized the truth on which I base my entire life means virtually nothing to a doubter who doesn’t fully appreciate the purpose of that truth. And this got me wondering: Do I fully appreciate the purpose of that truth?
How often do we as Christians live our faith walk on autopilot while completely missing the awesomeness of why God sent his only Son? To my relative’s point, God certainly didn’t need to send us Jesus. The world could have continued under the rule of disciplinarian Old Testament covenants, with a handful of people seeking forgiveness from a vague concept of a mysterious, unseen God. Or the all-powerful God could have just eliminated our free will in a snap or even wiped away disobedient humankind in a Divine do-over.
But God so loved the world—infinitely, unconditionally, immeasurably. And to show the depth of that love, he voluntarily surrendered to the cross the most relatable part of himself: His only Child.
Jesus’ arrival came at a dark period in history. Satan was busy corrupting many hearts, and the fallen world was filled with turmoil and evil. And that darkness was part of a bigger plan: The darker the environment, the easier it is to see the beam of a flashlight. People don’t seek God much when life is going great.
That said, it’s not easy to relate to extravagant pageantry of burning bushes or an unseen, distant deity—just ask my relative. So God sent Jesus to make himself—and his gift of eternal life—accessible.
Jesus could have been born to experienced human parents, surrounded by the most skilled doctors and nurses, fanciest crib, finest linens—the works. He could even have arrived as a superhuman adult. But would that be relatable? Could my skeptical relative ever feel connected to that?
Instead, Jesus came into the world as a baby (just like we did) through a young, poor, unprepared couple struggling with real-world problems (just like we have). His birth story was filled with difficulties and obstacles (just like our lives are). He arrived in disgraceful circumstances (literally—Mary was considered a disgrace, as you can imagine what people thought of her when she tried to explain her virgin birth). That tiny, helpless baby arrived in a relatable way—and that same tiny, helpless baby carried all the strength to save anyone who looks to the cross and believes.
The next time you feel overwhelmed, pause to prayerfully reflect on Why Jesus? The hands-on Creator, the God who brought planets into existence through his very Word, longs to connect with us daily… yes, us, even with all our flaws and selfishness! He deeply desires to engage in our lives on a personal level.
Yet despite how intimate he is with us, he’s still mighty enough to deliver us from our ongoing darkness like a flashlight. And in a time as dark and difficult as this, that Light of Jesus might just be brighter and more important than ever.
Stacia Ray is a member of Oak Hill Church in Bloomington, Minnesota.