What if Jesus had never been born? What if Mary, at age 14, had discovered she was pregnant, gone to the school nurse, and had an abortion without her parents even knowing?
What would have been Mary’s future? What would have been the future for the world?
Okay, let’s forget the first scenario because abortion wasn’t widely available in the first century – certainly not for a good Jewish girl. But let’s suppose Herod had been successful in his slaughter of Bethlehem’s innocent, and managed to cleanse what he clearly saw as a potential embarrassment to his rule. So Jesus would have been born…. but murdered before the age of two, with the result that God’s plan to save and redeem mankind would literally have died at birth. After which, following the trauma, Mary would maybe have had a nervous breakdown – no doubt to the extreme consternation of Joseph, who, let’s face it, had been having doubts about her ever since first finding she was pregnant. Eventually, however, and in the absence of any alternative, the two would maybe have accepted both the reality of foreign occupation, and of each other. So Joseph might have joined the local resistance cell and, when not making tables, become a freedom fighter. And Mary – quickly finding herself once again pregnant – would have knuckled down to the role of wife and mother, and started cooking chicken soup.
But what about the future of the world?
Well, in the short term, Herod’s reign would no doubt have been triumphantly glorious, as he strengthened Israel’s political and trade links with Rome, and quashed all internal opposition, establishing himself as supreme ruler and head of the new dynasty. The Roman Eagle would in turn have won permanent position over the entrance to the Temple, and worship of Caesar would have been superimposed over worship of Yahweh, thus bringing Israel into line with the rest of the empire. But, perhaps most important of all, the Jewish and Gentile followers of the prematurely slaughtered Messiah would never have come into existence, so that by definition the early church would also never have existed.
Which would have meant that, further down the line, the values that underpinned Magna Carta and in turn became the foundation for Western Democracy would also never have existed. Cruelty, abuse, slavery and exploitation of our fellow human beings would doubtless not just have continued unchecked, but would have flourished – as indeed attested by the 46 million plus men, women and children still enslaved in Islamic countries today. All of which serves to illustrate that, although Secularists like to argue that goodness is innate to the human condition and exists independent of Christianity, the evidence would suggest the opposite, and that men and women without Christ are a pretty hopeless bunch of self-interested opportunists.
Today, the same evil that tempted Eve and then tried to destroy the baby born in a stable is once again fighting to impose control. It cannot triumph, of course, because the decisive battle to break the stranglehold imposed by the devil following Adam and Eve’s fall was fought and won at the Cross. By His death, Christ shattered Satan’s hold and gave us opportunity to become once again sons and daughters of God- to become fully what God had made and intended us to be. But though the victory was won then, redemption was not automatic – rather it is something we have actively to choose. So evil was not driven entirely from the world until, Jesus said, every man, woman and child on the planet had been given chance to hear and respond to the message of God’s saving love. And only then, when everyone had been given opportunity to enter into life, would God pass final judgment on Satan and his hordes and, after the last battle – Armageddon – cast them into the Pit.
So today we are in that interim period when the rebel forces are battling for survival, and Satan, the father of lies and their commander in chief, is trying to wrest back control from God. His weapons are still the same as ever: lies and temptations. You are yourselves god, he whispers; you can choose whatever you want, indulging your every desire; all that matters is ‘knowledge’. Obedience to God isn’t life, but servile bondage to a joyless and judgmental tyrant!
Absolute freedom! Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? We can both design our own cake and eat it. Everybody happy.
Only the trouble is … we’re not. In this brave new world we have created, with its rebranded morality and exultation of consumerism, men and women are left increasingly isolated, lonely, and damaged. Unrestrained sexual indulgence and promiscuity have led not to happiness, but to epidemic level rates of STIs, many of which cannot be cured. While the serialised relationships and absence of commitment, that inevitably result, have led to vast swathes of society left lonely and alone. And children, first casualties of adult over-indulgence and denied the stability of loving parents, are in turn left emotionally crippled and maimed.
The truth – the elephant in the room that secular and LGBTQ acolytes of the ‘new’ religion are doing their best to deny – is that the great god ‘self’ gives in return only despair and death.
We stand at the beginning of a new year. We wish you every happiness and blessing for 2018 – but let us never forget that we are in a spiritual battle for the soul of the world, and that the fate of many – in both this world and the next – hangs in balance.
Two thousand years ago Jesus paid the ultimate price to set us free. Despite the devil’s every effort to prevent God’s plan for our redemption, the small, defenceless baby born in a stable survived and, in time, by his death on the Cross and resurrection, opened up the way and restored us to ‘One-ness’ with God.
The light shines in darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.
To us now is entrusted Christ’s message of salvation. Let us not betray His sacrifice. Whatever the months ahead may hold, let us face them with courage, and an unswerving commitment to righteousness and truth.