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It's a Wonderful Life
Pastor Jack Hoffman ©2002

As in every year for the past 40 or so, one of the traditions of our country around Christmas is the airing of "It's A Wonderful Life," a great classic starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed and filmed in 1946. When Frank Capra directed this movie, he had no way of knowing that although it would not win an Oscar, it would eventually win the hearts of America. Due to annual showings on television in late December, the film continues to endear itself to generation after generation.

Who can forget the plot and the acting? The story, seen from angelic perspective, is about a man, George Bailey, who has always wanted to leave his hometown and explore the world, but just can not. Things have always gotten in the way. Though he believes his life to be humdrum, it is shown to be wonderful and truly rich. At a low point, when his world seems to be falling apart, George attempts suicide. A whimsical trainee-angel named Clarence rescues him. Clarence then allows George to see what his small town of Bedford Falls would have become if he had never existed. Pottersville, named after the town's evil tycoon, would be a frightening, nightmarish, and horrible place to live. All of George's loved ones and friend's lives would have taken terrible turns. Iniquity would abound and hopelessness would replace the comfort of friendship. Shaken from his self-pity, George wants the opportunity to go back to Bedford Falls for he has seen what a difference the influence of his one life has made and has found the truth that "It's a wonderful life." So, how does this cinematic classic relate to today and Christmas in general? Well, have you ever considered what it would be like if Jesus had never been born? What kind of influence did His life have on this world, on you today?

What if Jesus had never lived?

If Jesus Christ of Nazareth had never existed, if He had never visited this planet, what a nightmare it would be to live in such a world. A world untouched by the love and influence of the Son of God would be scarier than any Stephen King novel, and more shocking than any writer of horror could possible dream. Think for a moment of what the influence of Christ has meant, and no one can even begin to scratch the surface or do justice to so great a subject. Everything that is mentioned to follow can be proved by documentation.

People who were following the Savior created most colleges and universities; there would have been no Harvard, Yale or Princeton. America would not have been discovered by Columbus, and a woman's dignity, worth and rights would have never have been recognized. There would have been no turning of the other cheek, no loving your neighbor as yourself. There would have been no child labor laws, in fact, only certain children would ever be able to live. Hospitals and charities that serve the masses would not exist. The Judeo/Christian laws, ethics and culture that birthed the greatest free nation that has ever existed, simply would not have ever been created, and America would not have began.

If Jesus had not come as a baby in Bethlehem, this world would be Afghanistan under the Taliban, Iraq under Saddam, Mongolia under Attila the Hun, China rolling over its own people with its tanks, Marxism massacring the millions, and South Sea Islands of cannibalism and volcano sacrifices.

It would be Inca and Aztecs cutting out the hearts of their young women in sacrifice to pagan deities. It would be voodoo, torture, witchcraft, druids, and every perverse heathen idea of mankind. All the very worst atrocities of mankind would be operating simultaneously, with no one to stop or show a better way. It would be like an insane asylum without walls or restraints. This world would be wallowing in the depths of Satan in hopelessness, lawlessness and helpless despair.

There would be no forgiveness and compassion. No Red Cross or a thousand benevolent organizations started by people with Christian sympathy. As when the pagan Roman government ruled, there would be no quarter ever given and no mercy ever rendered. Enemies of the state would be callously and horrible executed for the pleasure of bloodthirsty crowds, and genocide would be the acceptable cure for overpopulation.

To live in a culture Christ had never influenced, one would live in constant fear of others. Wars would be rampant, possessions would never be safe, and all life would be cheap. Such a world wouldn't have terrorists; everyone would have the capacity to terrorize.

If Jesus had not lived, what kind of a life would we have? We cannot even begin to imagine or visualize the horrendous and sad state our lives would be in. Visiting dark and ugly Pottersville actually would be a refreshing break, if we had to live in a world without Jesus.

But Jesus did live. Jesus did come to this world, the God-man incarnate. Jesus Christ's life changed this planet so radically that we date our calendars by His birth. This same Jesus, this one who was born of a virgin's womb, lived a sinless life, died upon a Roman cross, bearing all mankind's sin, and arose from the grave. This Jesus can change your personal life radically also. By turning from your sins, and by faith believing in His powerful life, death and resurrection, you can become a new creation, a child of God.