It’s no secret I love to read. I once heard a Christian writer speak a number of years back and her advice was to read and read and read some more. She encouraged us to read everything under the sun. At the time she was reading Stephen King.
One of the genres I love is young adult fiction. I never outgrew it. There’s something about the innocence of that period of life that is refreshing. So I’ve been reading a number of those books the last year. I started partly because my son is an avid reader and reads well about his grade level. He began to ask to read some of these books and I said, I’ll have to read them first. (The hardships of parenting!)
Lately I’ve been reading some of those popular dystopia novels. There are some brilliant writers out there because they had me hooked. I felt like I lived and breathed with these characters. I took the plot lines personally. The books are packed with action. Dystopia is not a happy place. I have been emotionally traumatized. It bothered me. A lot. I know I’m sensitive but this was a little ridiculous. I couldn’t figure out why.
I knew much of it had to do with the brilliant writing. To be able to reel a reader in like that and twist their emotions; man I wish I could write like that! But there was something else.
I finally figured it out last night, talking to a friend about these books. It’s this: In these books there is no hope. Some would disagree with that but I would argue right back. These stories begin in a dismal place and by the end I’m not sure the world is any brighter. There’s so much loss and wreckage. Can one recover fully? I felt robbed because the reality is the world we live in today is filled with bad stuff. Just watch the news.
It’s a lie. To say there is no hope. To live with no hope means you are already dead, inside. It’s hope that keeps us going. The days I feel hopeless are the ones I want to go back and hide in whatever escape I can. Bed, busyness, food. To numb myself to the senseless world around me.
This isn’t what we were created for. We were given life to go live it. The child who was born two thousand years ago brought hope to the world. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11 NASB
The baby in the manger brought hope because he brought life. In a world that was a doomed dystopia, he pushed the darkness aside, ripped the veil in two and ushered in a new and brilliant hope. Eternal life. Relationship with God that didn’t require sacrifices and priests. We were now able to approach the throne, freely. The gift wasn’t for the elect few. It was for all people. Everyone. No one left out.
A beloved babe, the one and only son, was sent as a messenger of hope and everlasting love by the Father. He looked past what we were and saw what we could become. His love sent forth life. Hope.
In the light of His Life, we too should shine our lights, especially as we enter this Advent season. We know the hope but others don’t. Shine His light into this world of darkness and fear and grief. In the places where people think this stinking world is as good as it gets.
I think that’s why Christmas transcends race, religion and social status. People are looking for a hope they can grasp with their world weary fingers. All they want is to stop the insanity. They desire something real. It doesn’t come brightly wrapped with a pretty bow. The babe in the manger. The man-God on the cross. He came crying as a newborn and died on a gory, bloody cross.
The world around him went dark but He was not defeated. The victory He won on the cross brought us hope, not just of eternal life but abundant life here on earth. So we could say, even in the dark, “Joy to the world” and mean it. And the world would know it.