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On Christmas Eve in 1968, as the astronauts of Apollo 8 circled the moon, they broadcast a message back to Earth. They were told that they would have the largest audience that had ever heard a human voice.
What would they choose to say?
Lunar Module Pilot William Anders began: “For all the people on Earth the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you:
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”
Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell continued:
“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.”
Commander Frank Borman ended their Christmas Eve broadcast:
“And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God called the dry land Earth: and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.”
Borman then added: “And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you–all of you on the good Earth.”
The latest on the Indonesian tsunami
The collapse of a volcano triggered a tsunami that struck Indonesia Saturday night. Waves smashed onto beaches without warning, ripping homes and hotels from their foundations and sweeping concertgoers into the ocean.
As of this morning, at least 281 people are known to have died; at least 1,016 people were injured. More than six hundred homes, sixty shops, and 420 vessels were damaged. Video posted to social media showed an Indonesian pop band performing when a massive wave crashed through the stage and into the audience.
How are we to reconcile Genesis 1’s declaration that this is a “good” world with the Indonesian tsunami and all the suffering we experience?
The biblical fact is that this planet does not function as it was intended. As a result of the Fall, “the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now” (Romans 8:22).
There were no disasters and diseases in the Garden of Eden. But ours is now a world in rebellion: “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19).
How Jesus could have entered the world
The incredible news is that God did not give up on us when we gave up on him. Christmas proves that Jesus truly is “Immanuel,” which means “God is with us” (Matthew 1:23).
The sinless Son of God did not have to enter this fallen world. He did not have to experience our pain, feel our hunger, or face our temptations.
He could have left our fallen world to the consequences of our sinful rebellion. Or he could have come the first time as he will the second–as the King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16) who will judge the nations and rule the universe (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:4).
But he chose to step onto our planet as one of us. He chose to be born the same way we are born. He chose peasants for parents and a feed trough for a crib to show that he leads all who will be led and goes wherever he’s invited.
“The will of God for your life”
On this Christmas Eve, let’s choose the God who chooses us.
Paul said of Jesus: “By him all things were created, in heaven and on earth” (Colossians 1:16). The only part of the universe he does not already own is our heart. It is therefore the only gift we can give him.
Renowned Bible teacher Kay Arthur: “The will of God for your life is simply that you submit yourself to Him each day and say, ‘Father, Your will for today is mine. Your pleasure for today is mine. Your work for today is mine. I trust You to be God. You lead me today and I will follow.'”
Will you give the Christ of Christmas what he wants most?