For all of its joy, presents, and excitement, Christmas has always felt like a solemn holiday to me. It’s a day where we mark the event that split time and changed the course of history, where the promises to a people were fulfilled and the gifts of forgiveness and redemption were brought into fruition. For Christians, all of humanity hangs in the balance of this event.
Christmas to me is the representation of the gift of life — the gift of Jesus’ birth, life, and death to cover our sins, and the gift of our lives restored by his sacrifice. People often decry society’s materialism during the holiday as “missing the reason for the season,” but I think too often Christians also miss the reason for the season even while acknowledging Jesus’ birth — the reason is life! We’re celebrating life.
I grew up as the daughter of a minister, and as is so often the case, I had a hard time untangling my actual beliefs from that of my parents’ as I matured. Many inconsistencies within my faith I either did not question at all or quietly questioned internally. One of those inconsistencies was the valuation of human life.
As much as it was defended in some pulpits and by many religious leaders during my childhood, the support of the death penalty that featured almost unilaterally in my faith never made actual sense to me. If I truly believed that God could save anyone — anyone — at any point in their life, then how could I advocate for a system that cut short the amount of time God had to move in their heart?
Furthermore, how could I look at the story of Paul, formerly Saul, see his persecution and mass murder of Christians, followed by his conversion and life of discipleship and not think God could do the same in other lives?
There were other inconsistencies as well. In James 2:10 the Bible says that all sins are equal. In Romans 3:23 the Bible says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And in Romans 6:23 the Bible says that the wages of sin is death. So if we have all sinned, all sin is equal in God’s eyes, and the wages of that sin is death, all of humanity would receive a death sentence were it not for Jesus’ sacrifice. I am no better than a murderer and neither is anyone else.
I am covered by grace, and since I am called to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, I too am to extend grace. I’ve worked around the criminal justice system long enough now to see the power of God move in countless lives. I know that no person is too far gone for Him to reach and recover, and I’ve seen the astounding ways He can move through a redeemed person’s life and testimony — both in and out of jail.
We celebrate life by recognizing the inherent value in all people and we celebrate Jesus’ birth by recognizing his power and ability to redeem at any point.
Hannah Cox is the National Manager of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. Hannah was previously Director of Outreach for the Beacon Center of Tennessee, a free-market think tank. Prior to that, she was Director of Development for the Tennessee Firearms Association and a policy advocate for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.
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