Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Around this time of year you hear a lot about the Christmas spirit, by which I suppose people mean love and charity and warmth towards one's fellow men. That's a pretty decent message, and I'm all for love and charity and warmth towards one's fellow men. But I was reminded this past Sunday of what Jesus himself said about Christmas:

"For this is how God loved the world: that he sent his only begotten son so that everyone who believed in in him should not perish but rather have eternal life. For God did not send his son into the world so that he might judge the world, but rather so that the world through him might be saved."

... "should not perish." In the original, mê apolêtai, the operative word being the verb apolêtai, from apollumi. What is meant by that? Check a Greek lexicon and you get an interesting sense of the connotations of that word. Jesus came so that all the world should not have to be destroyed. He came that they might not be emotionally destitute and rootless. He came that they might not be lost or forgotten. But rather he came for the explicit purpose that the world might be saved: sôthêi ho kosmos, the operative word being sôthêi, from the verb sôzô. He came that the world might be preserved for himself. That it might not die, that it might be rescued from danger. He came to remember it.

We are not forgotten - but rather, we are remembered. We need not perish, but rather, we may be saved. And such is the message of Christmas to all the world, from the mouth of the baby king himself.

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