It’s a privilege to greet you this Christmas, my first as the General of The Salvation Army. Throughout 131 countries around the world, The Salvation Army is bringing a message of hope as we seek to work for justice, righteousness and the extension of God’s Kingdom—not in our own strength, you understand, only through his power.
Our hope this Christmas is founded in the person of Christ Jesus who is our Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace and Everlasting Father. The titles are first found in the early verses of Isaiah chapter 9, verses 2, 6–7, which contain a message of hope to a people living in darkness and death—hope of light and life which are only found in the promised Saviour. Into this situation comes not a theory or a method, but a person. A living, breathing human—born as a vulnerable baby.
Hope is found in relationship with Jesus—the Light of the World who shatters the darkness. Hope is found not in dead ritualistic religion, but in vibrant, life-giving relationship with God.
Who is this Jesus? He is God in human form—no longer distant and unreachable, but right here with us. He is our Wonderful Counsellor, who speaks words of wisdom and guides us into truth. He is our Mighty God for whom nothing is impossible—he forgives sins, heals diseases and raises the dead. He is our Prince of Peace, who comes in love, providing rest for the weary and comfort for the troubled. He is our Everlasting Father, offering a familial relationship that can last for eternity, including protection and provision in the here and now. This is the Jesus who was born in the manger, hangs on the Cross and bursts out of the grave!
You can know this Jesus today.
Jesus is all about justice, righteousness and salvation. The people who heard Isaiah’s prophecy, the people who lived at the time of Jesus and we who are alive today are all too familiar with a broken world where injustices are prevalent and which is blighted by lack of morality. The person, message and method found in Jesus bring a countercultural perspective that transforms the dark and lifeless falsehood of the kingdom of this world into the gloriously bright, vivacious reality of the Kingdom of God.
You and I can experience this transformation and share the same with others when we live in relationship with Jesus.
It may sound like an idealistic vision or too good to be true. We can’t achieve this on our own—if we could, humankind would have figured it out by now! As the words from Isaiah remind us, it can only be accomplished through the power of God—‘The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this’ (Isaiah chapter 9, verse 7).
So this Christmas, let us trust God, rely on his power, live in relationship with him and partner with him to bring life, light and hope to our world.
May God bless you.