As we get ready to focus soon on that amazing event that occurred some 2,000 years ago in a little hill country village of Judea called Bethlehem, I want to think of all the amazing transformations that it ushered in. Transformations at that time, through the centuries since and that continue into our future.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:1-3)
We begin at the beginning when the first great transformation took place. Nothing was transformed into something. God spoke the Word and, through that, spoke the world into being.
We all know the story of what happened next, God creating mankind in His image, male and female, giving them the command to fill the earth with the image of God and rule over it as His delegates. We know how He created a garden and put the man and woman in the garden to care for it and how they disobeyed their Creator bringing sin and death into the world. We all know the story of the Fall and its tragic consequences in our own lives (Gen. 1&2). This was not a transformation but a devolution, an undoing of what God had done. We also know, with great joy and thankfulness that the story did not end there.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
It was this sending of His Son into the world that began the restoration of all things back to the Creator’s desire, the transformation of that which had been thoroughly corrupted into that in which the Creator, in all His holiness, can dwell. This corrupt, rebellious and fallen world, so unworthy of its Maker’s love, so far from the glorious holiness of His presence, was transformed in an instant and is being continually transformed.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:4-5)
The darkness of the fallen universe was penetrated by a ray of light, by the presence of a child born in a stable. Even though the darkness, this fallen world, with all its corruption, could not understand, could not comprehend, was not, for the most part, even aware of the light, it was transformed in a moment. The darkness’ days were numbered. The Prince of this darkness, of this world, he saw that light and knew his rule was ending. The King had entered the world to reclaim it for His own. The Word came.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
This transformation of God into the flesh, of the Creator, the Word of creation, into the created, this transformation changed the whole universe. There was nothing like it before. There will be nothing like it ever again. The moment the Virgin conceived by the Holy Spirit, the old age of darkness began to yield to the glory of God and to the new age of God’s revealed Kingdom.
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:9-13)
The world was changed forever, transformed from darkness and chaos into the new creation. The old was more than restored, something new came to be. The wonderful Good News is that any, all who receive this Light into the darkness of their own souls, their own hearts will know that they are now God’s true children, no longer separated in cold and darkness as outcasts; transformed, now, into subjects, citizens of the Kingdom and sons and daughters of God; no longer creations only but now heirs.
The transformation came in an instant. The transformation continues. The transformation will continue until this whole fallen world acknowledges its Creator and Lord.
When Jesus came into this world in the flesh to usher in this transformation, He began a process that led to His buying back that which we had sold to Satan, to reclaiming that which had been lost to sin and betrayal. He paid the price with His own blood. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21) We are transformed.
The transformation continues. Slaves to sin are set free. The Word continues going forth to call, to reclaim His own. The world is being called to become the dwelling place of the King. The New Jerusalem awaits.
As we believe on Him, we become children of God. As we acknowledge our sin and Christ’s forgiveness, as we claim the redemptions purchased by His blood, we are transformed from corrupt into holy, we are transformed from isolated sinners into the very members of His body. We become His hands and feet, His instruments for continued transformation. As we come together, are joined together by His Holy Spirit, His Kingdom appears among us, His glory shines through us. We are His Church, the renewed Israel, a priestly nation transforming the world around us. The transformation that began at Bethlehem and that was proclaimed by glory in the heavens continues through us as His glory shines forth from us on the earth. As we lift up the cup of salvation that He proclaimed to be His very blood shed for the salvation of the world, as we call on God to see us through that Blood as those who have been reclaimed, set free and transformed from many into one, we continue the work of transformation. We continue the work that extends the Kingdom of Light, the Kingdom of Glory throughout this dark and cold world. This work of transformation, carried on by His Church through the working of His Holy Spirit, will continue until the He returns to complete it. Then the old will have completely passed away and only the new will remain. We are instruments of transformation.
When God the Word became flesh, was born into this world, He delivered Himself into our hands. It was a man and a woman, human hands that had full responsibility for protecting Him and raising Him. He delivered Himself into the hands of Pilate to be nailed to the tree for our sake. He continues to put Himself into our hands. The amazing thing is that God the Word has entrusted to us the proclamation of that Word. He has given into our hands all the responsibility for extending His Kingdom. If we do not do this, who will? The ongoing process of transformation is in the hands of His Church, His Body here on earth. Having given Himself and His work into our hands, we have the choice of whether or not we will do it. We, who are still weak and still able to give in to sin, are the ones whom He has called, to whom He has entrusted this most precious thing, the sharing of the love of God with the unloved of the world.
Let us continue this work of transformation bringing all darkness and rebellion into subjection to Him, not by might or by strength, not by violence but by His Spirit (Zech. 4:6). Let us carry out our priestly work to spread abroad the love of God and bring many sons and daughters into His family.
It was not just one small family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus that came into being in that stable in Bethlehem, it was the very family of God that burst upon an unsuspecting world. That family that began then continues to grow as we are changed by God and become instruments for His love to be given to those around us. Let us reach out and bring others into our holy family.