We live in a fallen and corrupted world.
One of the features of this reality is the violence and injustice that prevail in throughout the world. The gruesome images that have come out of Syria recently are evidence that evil is alive and well in the world.
While Christmas is to be a time of hope and joy, for many people their experience during the holiday is something quite different.
Whether it is due to some tragedy, illness, accident, or crime many people are in the midst of great evil rather than great joy.
It is important for us to remember that this was true for the first Christmas as well:
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
Matthew 2:16-18 ESV
In the midst of the beauty of God’s love pouring into the world through the birth of Jesus, Matthew reminds us that there is evil in the world.
The joy, peace, and hope of Christmas is painted on the backdrop of a world corrupted by evil.
I know that we don’t want to think the world has been corrupted by evil, but it doesn’t take a long examination of history or the evening news to realize that evil has a hold on our world. Herod’s slaughter of the baby boys of Bethlehem is just the tip of the iceberg of how evil has infected the world.
For us living in the United States we are insulated from much of the evil that plagues humankind. We see glimpses of this evil, but we don’t know the daily struggle many people face just to survive. Nevertheless, we feel that stirring in our hearts that tell us that life is not what God created it to be.
Life is not what it should be, because the days are evil.
Why are the days evil? The days are evil because God’s will is being opposed.
There is an enemy who seeks to corrupt and destroy God’s good creation. This means we are caught in the middle of a cosmic war between good and evil. Evil was present that night in Bethlehem, because the enemy had no intention of allowing God to invade the world.
Herod was but a pawn in the cosmic battle. The enemy used him to spread death and misery; to create doubt in people’s minds that God was good, loving, and kind.
Even today, the biggest objection to the existence of God is the reality of evil. People insist that evil is incompatible with a loving and good God.
The reality is that what happened in a stable in Bethlehem was God’s answer to the problem of evil.
Jesus reminds us that God has not abandoned us to Satan, sin, and death. Evil does not have the final word. It is because of Jesus that we have hope that one day we will experience life free from evil. Free to live life the way God created it to be lived.