A whole lot of people are very aware of what they don’t want this Christmas. We don’t want COVID-19, lockdowns, closed restaurants, election squabbles, distance learning, officing at home, isolation from families. What we all really want is a return to normal, whatever and whenever that may be. We just want things to be the way they are supposed to be!
Whether we are aware of it or not, this is a built-in longing for the ancient and beautiful condition known as shalom. The word means more than just political peace, or tranquility, or a ceasefire in war. Shalom is the restoration and establishment of the way things ought to be. It is the kind of peace that settles our hearts, not just our disputes. It is the kind of wholeness that invites human flourishing, imagination and vision. Shalom brings the blessedness of ZERO. It cancels out the dread of old mistakes and problems.
ZERO for Christmas?
Just imagine how free and joyful this Christmas would be if you got ZERO as a gift:
- ZERO college debt
- ZERO regrets
- ZERO tension in the family
- ZERO unfinished homework
- ZERO mortgage payment
- ZERO need for medication
- ZERO sleepless nights
- ZERO guilt
Wow! ZERO would be such a gift; such a relief; such a load off my mind! ZERO would take all that burden I’ve been carrying and worrying over and give me brand-new freedom to start fresh. This would be true shalom: a return to the way things ought to be.
Did you know that God’s announced purpose for Jesus’ birth was not about adding on a bunch of new rules and secrets about religion, but subtracting the one thing that stood in the way of shalom? His purpose was to ZERO-out the debt, the guilt, and the fear caused by the accumulation of human sin.
"He will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
Jesus was born to be the Savior and Redeemer of a world paralyzed by shame, fear, alienation and guilt. He came to write ZERO at the bottom of the column of our sins. Jesus came to take away the heavy backpack of loneliness and dread that the whole human race labored under.
Advent signals the anticipation of shalom coming to a broken and distant relationship with God. “Peace on Earth” does not signal the end of all wars and tensions on earth. It is an announcement of the peace Jesus makes between God and men. Through the Savior, God removes his righteous wrath against my sin. He cancels out the hostility, the distance, and the damage compiled by our history of sin. Life is again possible! The ultimate do-over is promised.
We long for the freedom of ZERO; to have nothing hanging over our heads. There’s nothing like a fresh start, a new beginning, and a release from old weights. Only a Savior can provide this new release. It’s the undeserved grace of forgiveness. Jesus was born to save us from our whole history and bring us into the most secure relationship we will ever know. “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
Celebrate the birth of Jesus with fresh freedom! His coming signals ZERO condemnation. ZERO doubting about God’s love and care. ZERO fear or the future. Recognize what has been canceled, and step into joy!
Shalom to you and your household.