No one wants to hear this statement. Originally spoken by Capt. Jim Lovell, commander of the nearly-disastrous Apollo 13 mission in April 1970, we now use the heroic astronaut’s words to indicate when something sudden and serious has occurred.
None of us want to hear our mechanic or physician tell us that we have a problem with our vehicle or, worse, with our own health. Yet knowing a problem exists provides the first step to addressing it.
We now find ourselves in the middle of the festive Christmas season. The bright lights and bustling activity all around us can belie the fact that Christmas was God’s response to the biggest problem the world has ever known.
Our problem — one that we all share in common — lies within us, according to the Bible.
We were created in the image of God himself (Genesis 1:27). However, when given the chance, people rebelled against him and went their own way.
That tendency to act in defiance of God is called sin, and it’s a serious problem. Sin separates us from the God who loves us and made us. The prophet Isaiah, writing in the 700s BC, realized how desperate our situation is:
“But you [God] have been very angry with us,
for we are not godly.
We are constant sinners;
how can people like us be saved?
We are all infected and impure with sin.
When we display our righteous deeds,
they are nothing but filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:5-6 NLT)
Our lives, along with everyone around us, are tainted with this malady. We need rescuing, but how is that even possible? We can’t rescue ourselves: none of our good deeds even come close to making us right with God.
God provided our means of rescue that first Christmas. That was the good news announced to the shepherds on that quiet hillside outside Bethlehem.
“‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!’” (Luke 2:10-11)
At Christmas, God sent his own son to be our savior, our rescuer from sin. Only Jesus could be the world’s savior since only he lived a flawless, sinless life. Only he could offer himself as the complete payment for our sins, since he had none of his own.
Realizing a problem exists provides the first step in addressing it. It’s easy to spot the flaws and sins of others, less so in ourselves. The first step in receiving God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ is to acknowledge that we’ve sinned and we’re a sinner. That’s a tough but necessary admission.
Then we see and believe that Jesus Christ, God’s only son, died and rose again to forgive us and give us a new life. We simply receive that gift, turning from our own way and following him completely.
In that way “the savior” spoken of by the angel that first Christmas becomes “my savior.”
Don Baumann is outreach pastor at Hilltop Community Church in Carson City.