On CBS’s Big Bang Theory, Sheldon and Amy have a game that they play. One of them names some event that has taken place in history and then the other explains what the world would be like if that event had never happened. For instance, if meteors hadn’t struck the earth, then the dinosaurs wouldn’t have died off and there’d be no great works of art because people running for their lives from dinosaurs all day long don’t have time to paint. The game is kind of silly. And none of the other characters on the show ever want to play the game with them – but, yet, I find it sort of interesting to think about how one event can change everything. On the other hand, if I think about it too long, then I start worrying about bee colonies collapsing and how the fruit, nuts, flower, and vegetables are going to go with them. But I digress…
This week, I took some time to think about what the world would be like if Jesus had never been born. It was hard to get my mind around it. It is too easy to slip over into naming all the awful stuff people have done in the name of Jesus: the crusades, burning those who didn’t agree with them at the stake, forming the KKK, taking Native American land and resources, the Salem witch trials, slavery, the mistreatment of women, etc. I could go on and on.
But it is Christmas and that quagmire is not where I want to live. So I imagined the baby Jesus lying in the manger and thought of what the world could be like if we really followed him:
- We’d hang out with people on the margins instead of the rich and powerful.
- We’d practice nonviolence.
- We’d recognize sin as the absence of love for God, others, and ourselves and resist it.
- We’d be willing to die to save even our enemies.
- We’d use the love of God to heal people from all kinds of hurts.
- We’d speak truth to power correcting every injustice.
- We’d let Jesus change us even if that change meant giving up everything we have in order to follow him.
- We’d honor and respect our differences.
- We’d give voices and power to the downtrodden.
- We’d stop focusing on which rules we should follow.
- We’d prioritize the needs of the children in our communities at the top of our lists.
- We’d have a safe place with others who follow Jesus.
- We’d forgive those who hurt us.
- We’d do the work of God together – everyone would get to help – no one would be excluded.
- We’d tell each other stories that would build us up and not tear us down with fear and untruths.
- We’d feed hungry people.
- We’d take time to listen to God speak.
This is the Kingdom of God. I long to become better at living it out.
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