NO! Not the buttons! Not my gumdrop buttons!
Alright then! Who's hiding them?
Ok. I'll tell you. Do you know... the muffin man?
The muffin man?
The muffin man. Yes, I know the muffin man. W-who lives on Drewery Lane?
Well, she's married to the muffin man.
The muffin man?
THE MUFFIN MAN! She's married to the muffin man...
I'm pretty sure if you saw the first Shrek movie, you'll remember this classic reference. That's because the first Shrek movie is a classic - as in something that seems to just get better with time.
I don't know if you are a fan, but by all appearances this is the last installment of adventures in Far Far Away…so good, bad, or ugly, I'm definitely seeing this one.
Shrek Forever After borrows heavily from another classic movie often seen at Christmas called It's a Wonderful Life. In that film, the main character is given the gift of seeing how life would have turned out if he had he never been born, it was pretty much a mess. In Shrek's case, the world is also pretty much a mess. Puss-n-Boots is fat and lazy, Fiona is kind of a gang member, and a creepy little dude named Rumpelstiltskin is on the throne instead of Sir Justin Timberlake.
Well maybe that Rumpelstiltskin vs. Justin Timberlake part is sort of in sync, but overall the Shrek parallel world is a darker and crueler place to be, because Shrek is trying to be a savior on many levels. It's up to him to save his friends, restore his world and reclaim his one True Love.
This alternate reality stuff can really mess with your mind, but have you ever considered what the world would be like if Jesus had never been born? At first glance, you might shrug and think about a couple implications like the need for a different way to measure time and not having to go to church, but I would like to paint a deeper picture that should fill you with appreciation for the immeasurable gift given to us on that first Christmas.
If Jesus had never been born, the world would be a much more primitive place where women are slaves of free men, children are sacrificed to idols, and the concepts of charity and love are all but missing from society.
If Jesus had never been born, education and science would look very different and much more primitive,* and most likely the United States of America would have just been an unrealized historical dream.
But worst of all, if Jesus had never been born, there would exist only one spiritual destination for our eternal souls; a dark and tormenting place where we would be eternally separated from God. Jesus Christ came to earth as a man to live a perfect life, die a horrible death, and rise from the grave so that the penalty for the world's sins would be paid in full…and eternal life made available to anyone who puts their faith in Him for salvation.
Here's the way the Apostle Paul describes it:
If corpses can't be raised, then Christ wasn't, because he was indeed dead. And if Christ weren't raised, then all you're doing is wandering about in the dark, as lost as ever. It's even worse for those who died hoping in Christ and resurrection, because they're already in their graves. If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we're a pretty sorry lot. But the truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries (1 Corinthians 15:16-20).
In other words, a world without the birth, life, death, and resurrection from the dead is a world that is "always winter…never Christmas."**
But we can happily wake up from that nightmare, because 2000 years ago in a dark and dirty cave near Bethlehem, the cry of a baby started a shockwave of change that is felt just as strongly today as ever. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, and God with us.
So the question I have for you is…
Has Jesus Christ entered into your world? If not, I can tell you that the darkness will remain and your destiny is not a pleasant picture by any stretch of the imagination.
If He has, then how much have you let Him change your world? He is the single most influential figure in all of history, but is He the centerpiece of your soul?
Let Jesus Christ set off a chain reaction of change in your life. Let that chain reaction include living out THE Cause of Christ – making disciples who make disciples. Start by telling your friends the Good News about Jesus' free gift of salvation to those who trust in Him. I promise you'll have an amazing forever after!
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
Ask your friends what they think the world would be like if Jesus had never been born. What might be different? Pray for an opportunity to share how your world would be changed if Jesus hadn't lived, died and come back from the dead.
Accelerant: Feed the Fire
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son" (John 3:16-18).
He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn (Luke 2:5-7).
So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons (Galatians 4:3-5).
** C.S. Lewis: Chronicles of Narnia