I don’t have a lot of military associations in my family, but I’m impressed by the commitments and sacrifices those who serve our country make for us. All of us. Even those who disagree about war and plead pacifism. Our servicemen do so to keep us safe, to protect our privileges, and defeat forces in this world bent on wreaking mass havoc on innocent people. For sure, our military is not perfect, and suffers the effects of our fallen world like every establishment. But recently, I was struck by some lines from their creeds:
“I will never leave a fallen comrade.” (Army Special Forces Creed)
“Leave no man behind.” And “Failure is not an option.” (Navy Seal unwritten code)
How does this connect to Advent, you might ask? Because God is the greatest warrior this world has known. He fought the greatest battle and made the greatest sacrifice, all because love compelled him to “leave no man behind.”
That’s the promise of the manger. That God comes back for you, the wounded. Failure is no option for him, and thus, he’s left with one choice: to redeem the fallen world through his Son.
We love stories of brotherhood and courage, don’t we? Movies like Saving Private Ryan, which demonstrate the depth of human commitment and love for each other, the willingness to sacrifice.
The manger is the beginning of an operation that would go terribly wrong by the world’s standards. A king that doesn’t assert a military kingdom? A king that ends up dead? This is mass failure, by our standards.
But we know the rest of the story, don’t we Christians? We know that sacrifice was Christ’s path to victory. We know that He came back for us in order to rescue us and enable us to live forever in his presence. But you don’t have to wait for heaven for those eternal benefits. He offers life abundant right now.
As you reflect on the glory of Christmas this year, and maybe you do so feeling wounded and discarded, remember the tenacity of God who pursues you and promises never to leave you or forsake you. The greatest evidence of that promise lies before you in the manger, inviting your worship.