This year in The Salvation Army Nigeria, our theme has been “Breaking Boundaries” and as we find ourselves in the midst of the Christmas season, it is good to reflect on how the birth of Jesus symbolizes and lays the foundation for us to confidently declare a theme of “Breaking Boundaries.”
Right from the beginning, Christmas was a time of breaking barriers! The announcement of his birth to his mother began the breakdown of gender barriers. Mary must have been stunned when the angel Gabriel appeared one day and told her, “Rejoice, highly favoured one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (Luke 1:28). From that moment women were “highly favoured” as Jesus welcomed women to serve with him in ministry (Luke 8:1-3), opening the doorway for us to effectively reframe and reprogram the myth that the gifts, talents and abilities of women in our communities are not equally balanced with men and should not be of use in society and the church,
When the host of Angels suddenly busted through the veil between heaven and earth to announce the glorious birth of Christ, the “good news that will bring great joy to all people” while giving “Glory to God in the highest heaven and peace on earth to all men, a generational barrier was broken down and man had a way again to meet with God on a personal level. You will recall that God had a positive relationship and presence with humans in the beginning. God and Adam and Eve were walking and talking together in the Garden, peacefully enjoying one another’s company. But rebellion, sin and Satan caused a barrier to be erected between God and man. From that time, through generation and generation, it was only God who could cross from time to time in the form of the Shekinah Glory. But now, the creator of all things, who simply spoke and everything came into being, the One who holds all of creation together, had come to earth, breaking down that boundary and a host of other barriers. Emmanuel – God with us, to restore the broken fellowship and to provide opportunity for man to once again personally walk and talk with God
The birth of Christ was also the impetus and foundation for the gospel that initiated the breaking down of the “dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14) between peoples, reaching out across racial, social and cultural barriers to all castes and clans, languages and lifestyles, bringing them together to form a living temple. Jesus healed the demon possessed child of a Syrophoenician woman as well as the servant of a Roman centurion; he mingled and ate with sinners and tax collectors; he had time for the wealthy Zacchaeus but also for the Samaritan woman. Jesus looked past rich and poor; young and old, Jew and Gentile, breaking down these man made barriers. Because of Christmas, we too can understand that we should not look at people based on their usefulness to you or their economic status in society, but on their status in the eyes of God – beloved of the Creator.
Christmas was a breakthrough then and still is today. The message of Christmas continues to break down barriers in our lives. Whether there are financial barriers, relationship barriers, health barriers or self-esteem barriers that block our journey into our destinies, or tribal barriers and cultural barriers that impede our progress, God is able and is willing to intervene in our circumstances. Will you allow him to?
Colonel Victor Leslie