My church, Redeemer Modesto, is doing a four-part Christmas series on Jesus’ birth, focusing on one Gospel each week, with the theme of “He Came to Us” throughout each sermon:
I’m going to blog my summary comments of each sermon, referring back to Carson Weitnauer’s Pastors: Six Easy Ways to Add Apologetics to Your Sermons, fleshed out on his blog, Reasons for God:
1. Explain the historical context of the passage.
2. Compare and contrast Christianity with other worldviews and religions.
3. Ask questions.
4. Talk about clues.
5. Discuss the explanatory power of the Christian worldview.
6. Share a story about your doubt and its resolution.
He Came to Us: In our brokenness, preached by Redeemer’s head elder, Jim Applegate, is a good example of numbers 1, 2 and 3 in Carson’s list above. I am so blessed to be in a church family that actually uses apologetics in our sermons.
1. Historical context. Jim explains the historical context of the passage by jumping into the genealogy of Jesus, and he makes it relevant to our own families.
Jacob is known for lying, to get the blessing from his father. Ruth is a broke, young widow with no future. David is an adulterer, murderer, and very wealthy king with like 500 wives. Bathsheba is an adulterer. Solomon is the wealthiest and wisest king. Hezekiah is the best, good king. Manasseh is an evil king, and Israel paid dearly for it. Josiah is a great king. Rahab is a prostitute.
Mary is an unknown, Joseph is a blue-collar worker, and Jesus is “born in a barn” with the stigma of being an illegitimate son. This is a twisted mess into which Jesus is born. Their celebration is cut short by the massacre of children his age.
This picture doesn’t fit on the front of a Christmas card, but God does not wait for the picture to be perfect to step into it. Jesus came to us in our brokenness—all the way in.
2. Worldview comparison. Jim compares Christianity to the mistaken view that God meets us halfway, that God “helps those who help themselves”. Reality: He comes all the way to us, “so that” we can come to him.
He steps into our broken family lines, our dysfunctional families.
The genealogies say: “I use normal people like you. I help broken people like you.”
He steps into our common and politically incorrect lives.
Mary’s pregnancy before marriage says: “I use people who don’t fit social norms.”
He steps into our messy lives.
Jesus’ birth in a manger says: “You don’t have to clean up your life before I arrive.”
He steps into our lives knowing our lives get worse before they get better.
Herod’s massacre of babies Jesus’ age says: “I am in the hard stuff with you.”
Jesus rips up Santa’s naughty and nice list. Christianity is not about fixing ourselves and then coming to Jesus—it’s about Jesus coming to us, and only then fixing us.
We should put a nativity scene in front of the church that doesn’t leave the crap out of it. That’s the reality—and nobody wants to steal that.
3. Questions. Jim encourages us to ask ourselves these questions:
“Do I need to be a Hallmark card for Jesus to accept me?”
“Does my family need to be functional for Jesus to come to me?”
“Can I talk about Jesus’ genealogy, birth scene and stigma to people who don’t feel worthy of coming to him?”