[Normally various people at HHBC produce a daily Advent blog together, but that didn’t happen this year! Instead you will have to make do with just this post …]
The word compromise can be seen as positive (‘a great British compromise’) or negative (‘a compromising text’). There has been much comment on how the various sides in the big issue currently affecting our country don’t seem able or willing to compromise. Our nation, our Parliament and even our political parties, are divided down the middle.
Would compromise be a good thing, and is compromise even possible when views are so entrenched, and when each side dismisses the other as Brextremists or Remoaners? I don’t know.
But it made me think about whether compromise is something God ever does. The answer depends on your definition, but normally compromise is about making concessions in order to reach agreement – so both sides accept an outcome which is not their preferred position, but which they recognise to be better than ‘no deal’.
Compromise is not a word we find in the Bible, but is it what God in practice sometimes does? Take for example God’s great act of salvation through Jesus – his birth as a baby, his death as a criminal, his ascension as Lord. Was that a giant compromise on the part of God?
From God’s point of view, the ideal scenario would have been for humanity not to have collectively eaten the apple in the first place, not to have rebelled and broken the relationship God had planned for us. But that option was no longer on the table.
The no-deal scenario would have involved the current mess continuing for eternity – us being given over indefinitely to the choices we have made, with no prospect of reconciliation.
God’s solution was to become, in the person of Jesus Christ, a human and to take upon himself our broken-ness and the just consequences of our rebellion.
The trouble with the word compromise is that it suggests letting go of our principles – agreeing to something we know is not quite right. It’s a little too pragmatic. It’s a little too easy a path for God to take. Another problem is that it tends to suggest an agreement between two fairly evenly-matched parties. But real and personal though evil is, we should not place either it or ourselves on a level with God.
So compromise won’t really do to describe what we celebrate at Christmas.
Sacrifice would be a better word. God does not compromise his principles (especially his love and his justice) but he does sacrifice himself. He becomes human and then becomes obedient to death, even death on a cross.
So what? May I suggest the following responses:
Let us thank God that he does not compromise, but that he does sacrifice. Let us worship him for the kind of God he is. A God whose commitment to love and justice means that he could not look the other way, but came, and at huge cost to himself, resolved the issue.
In our relationships with one another, let us have the same mind-set as Christ Jesus. Perhaps this Christmas you will be expected to spend more time than you would like with people who have upset you in the past or who don’t share your values. What does sacrifice without compromise look like for you?
Let us pray for our nation and those who lead it – that collectively we will be willing to sacrifice our own politics, preferences and pride. But that we will not compromise on those principles which we find revealed in the character of God himself.