I admired Nelson Mandela. He could have come out of prison embittered and ready to fan the flames of civil war and bloodshed. Instead, he sought to unite the citizens of South Africa and build a nation that would be a beacon to others. He didn’t go after retribution but reconciliation, and thus inspired hope in millions around the world. The movie “Invictus” gave us a glimpse of how President Mandela enlisted the Springboks on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup. With so many passionate about rugby and their national team, he knew this would be a way to draw all his people together. Though he wasn’t able to solve all the problems his nation faces, he showed them the power of mercy and gave all of us hope of what can be when we pull together.
American has had inspiring leaders as well. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Abraham Lincoln to name a few. I think of those in my lifetime: John F. Kennedy brought a nation together with the Space Program, and stirred people from around the world with what mankind might accomplish. Rick and I stood in a mountain hotel with dozens of others, cheering as Armstrong stepped on the moon and said, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” I think of Martin Luther King, Jr. who led thousands of blacks and whites in peaceful demonstrations for equal rights for all. These were times of great hope and excitement in our country.
Sadly, America seems to kill our most inspiring leaders; Lincoln, Kennedy, King.
But there is hope.
There is one greater than Mandela and Lincoln, Kennedy and King. There is one who continues to bring down the walls of race, class, economic separation, political party, national pride and religion. There is one who has the power to change the human heart and mind. His name is Jesus. We are entering a time of celebration for His entrance into our world. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born through a woman. The Lord came down and lived among His people. Jesus is God’s show-and-tell of how much He loves each of us and to what lengths He will go to ransom us from the captivity of sin and death. Someday, He will return and bring with Him a new earth.
In Christ, there is no Jew or Arab, no slave or freeman, no black or white, no rich or poor. The barriers that have separated us come down and we are one in Him, sons and daughters of The King of kings. We are citizens of a Kingdom established by love and held together by love that will last for all eternity, a Kingdom established by God for all those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Christmas is a time of great rejoicing. Jesus was born in a manger. Our Redeemer, lives on high! He has set the captives free!