This is a small village near Reading that I drive through – slowly, because of the terrible traffic – to take my children to gymnastics. We’re very excited at the possibility of living near such an eminent celebrity, but we’re surprised that they’ve chosen Sonning because of the flooding – and the aforementioned terrible traffic. I find I’m one of the last to know, but I still try telling people in case they haven’t heard that George Clooney, a celebrity I’ve actually heard of, unlike most of the Strictly Come Dancing line-up, is moving in up the road from me.
But how excited would I be if I knew God was moving into the neighbourhood? Particularly if it had been long predicted that he would be moving to the Reading area, as the Clooneys are? But that is what I believe. Not that the Bible predicts God’s imminent arrival in Reading as such, but that God really did come into the world in the person of Jesus. Not only that, but He brought forgiveness for our sins, conquered death and brought the promise of eternal life.
So why don’t I rush around and tell everyone about it, the way I do about George Clooney?
I think there are a few factors. One, which I know is wrong, is that I feel that God coming into the world isn’t really news. For a start, it happened a long time ago. I assume everyone knows not only that Jesus came into the world as someone who was both fully human and fully God, but that also everyone knows the implications of this – that they therefore know how much they are loved by God and how much God can help them live life to the full and be assured of life after death. So I don’t feel it’s news.
Secondly, I’m not too sure how to bring up the topic. As I walk up to school – or rather, run as I’m always late – to pick up my children, do I casually mention to other parent friends of mine that God has sent his Holy Spirit to live in us and help us to be more like him? Do I tell them that God moved into Bethlehem?
There are things that are news that I can genuinely announce. This year’s Alpha Course at church is news. Inviting people to the latest Alpha course is a great way of initiating a conversation about God. It also, however, lets people know that I’m a Christian, which means I need to live in a way which backs up what I say I believe about God’s love for me and for others. The apostle Paul often points to how he lived amongst people as proof of his genuine belief in God and also as an example of how Jesus would have lived amongst them. I, however, am not so confident that a close examination of my life would be clear evidence of Jesus’ love for mankind.
God can work in the lives of those around us through our love for them and can convict people of the truth of who He is. But it’s a tall order to live as Jesus would have lived, even if we are filled with his Spirit. Perhaps just passing on the good news of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection isn’t so difficult after all.