I was walking around the supermarket last Saturday morning, taking my elderly mum shopping, and I was unexpectedly caught up in a moment. Without warning the whole thing, the supermarket, all of human life and the entire physical universe suddenly seemed to me to become completely absurd. The sheer physicality of what I could see around me car-crashed itself into my own personal reality in Christ and I was instantly overwhelmed with the utter stupidity of it all. But, here’s the thing – this wasn’t a depressing realisation – not at all. No, it was funny, hilarious even. The stark contrast between the unseen, yet true, spiritual nature of reality – Jesus Christ, God the Father, the Holy Spirit and heaven – and what I could see right in front of me – the people milling around the aisles looking for their favourite biscuits or gluten-free sausages – made me smile a big hearty smile. Not in a mocking way, you understand, but just as if I had, for the first time, seen things for what they truly are – both the solid reality of the spiritual world and the shocking pointlessness, on its own, of the physical realm. I’m not the first person in history to experience this, of course.
Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1:2, NIV)
Maybe you’ve had your own sudden encounter like this at some point. If you have, take a moment right now to reflect on how this made you feel.
Of course, without the hope of Christ and His salvation, life is ultimately bleak and depressing. No wonder we have such an epidemic of despair if all we have to live for are our favourite biscuits or gluten-free sausages.
If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” (1 Corinthians 15:32, cf. Isaiah 22:13, NIV)
Don’t you love it, when God says ‘But’…?
But, a different reality came crashing into our world 2,000 years ago. The spiritual became physical, so the physical could understand it is really spiritual. Hope came crashing into the earth that first Christmas night, and everything changed. Biscuits were no longer just a source of comfort, but a blessing to remind us to turn our hearts to the source of all good things, the Creator of biscuits and everything else. Now all physical things can be seen as secondary to Him, subject to Him, made by Him and made for Him, including us, His people. This is the true power of the Christmas story – in a godless world where nothing means anything, God arrives unexpectedly and now everything means something. All people have value and all life is loaded with meaning and purpose and all things are His things.
Maybe take a moment to think about this the next time you find yourself in the supermarket in the run up to Christmas.