There is nothing more comforting to frail human beings than a God who is full of grace and mercy. We are all too well aware of our weaknesses and failings and our need for help and forgiveness. Psalm 67 begins by promising us grace and blessing and favor. We can all breathe a sigh of relief that God has our best interests in mind and will take good care of us. But this personal message quickly morphs into a global proclamation. While I am the object of his love, his grace and mercy are extended to the whole earth, to all nations, to all peoples.
As we approach Christmas this year, we understand that our joy and celebration encompasses the entire human race. It was never just about us. It’s about a baby who initiated a planetary rescue effort. A savior for all peoples, all nations, all languages. “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you” (vv. 3, 5, ESV). Christmas is not really only for Christians. It’s for everyone on the earth.
While I grew up in Minnesota surrounded by Lutherans with many a “white Christmas,” I also spent several Decembers in Southeast Asia. In Thailand, 1 percent of the population follows the Christmas baby. Celebrating Christmas there among Buddhist peoples who do not yet know him was precious and meaningful. After all, Christmas is not a “members only” party for Christians. Today, while one third of the world is Christian, two-thirds are not, and about half of those are unaware of the Christmas story. The baby’s arrival is amazing news for those who don’t yet know him. This year, “I’m dreaming of a global Christmas.” How about you?
Todd M. Johnson, Ph.D.
Director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity; Associate Professor of Global Christianity