If I Had Not Come
It was Christmas Eve, and after Bobby had carefully hung his stocking by the fireplace he went off to bed. Usually Bobby did not like to go to bed early, but tonight he was eager to get to sleep so as to be sure to wake up early to see his gifts.
For their daily Bible lesson that day, Bobby and his father had read Jesus' own words to his friends found in John 15:22. Five words had stayed in Bobby's mind, and he kept saying them over and over again until he fell asleep. They were the words, "If I had not come."
It seemed as if he had not been asleep any time when a cross, harsh voice said: "Get up, get up, I tell you. It's time to get up."
Thinking about the skates he wanted and the flashlight and the motor and the books for which he'd been wishing, Bobby got up and hurried into his clothing and went downstairs. But all was still. No one was there to greet him; no stocking hung beside the fireplace; no wreaths were in the window; no splendid tree was there.
Hurrying to the door, Bobby looked down the street. The factory was open and he could hear the rumble of the machinery. He grabbed his cap and sweater and raced down the street to the factory door, and there stood a grim-looking foreman.
"What's the factory running for on Christmas?" asked Bobby. "Christmas?" asked the man. "What do you mean? I never heard that word. This is one of our busy days, so you clear out of here."
Filled with wonder, Bobby hurried on down the street toward the stores, and to his amazement he found them all open. The grocer, the dry goods man, the baker, each one was busy and cross, and each said in reply to his question, "Christmas? What's Christmas?"
When Bobby tried to explain, "It's Jesus' birthday," and that the first part of the word "Christmas" means "Jesus," he was gruffly ordered to move along, as this was a very busy day.
Going round the corner, he thought: "I'll go to church, our own church, for there's to be a Christmas service there." All at once Bobby stopped short before a big vacant field, and he mumbled to himself: "I guess I'm lost. I was certain our church was here. I know it was." Then he noticed a signboard in the center of the big vacant lot, and ongoing nearer to it he read the words, "If I Had Not Come."
Suddenly the meaning of it all dawned on the puzzled boy, and he said, "Oh, I know, 'If I Had Not Come' - that's why there's no Christmas day, nor any church."
He was wandering along in a gloomy way, when he thought of the box of toys and games his class had sent to the Orphans' Home, and he said, half aloud, "I guess I'll go up to the Home and see the children get their presents." But when Bobby reached the place, instead of seeing the name of the Home over the gateway, he read these same five words, "If I Had Not Come" and beyond the archway there was no fine building.
Seeing an old man, feeble and ill, by the roadside, Bobby said: "I guess you're sick, mister. I'll run to the hospital and tell them to send an ambulance for you." But when he reached the grounds no splendid building was to be seen, nothing but signs and posters bearing the words, "If I Had Not Come."
As Bobby hurried back to the corner where the Rescue Mission had been he said, "I'm sure they'll take the poor old man in there, anyway." But men with angry faces were gambling and swearing and over the door Bobby saw, instead of the name of the mission, the same words, "If I Had Not Come."
Thinking still about the poor old man, Bobby hurried home to ask his father and mother to help him. On his way across the living room, he waited to look up in a Bible these words, "If I Had Not Come." Turning past the pages of the Old Testament, he found that there was no new part. After Malachi all the pages were blank, and as he held them up to the light on each one he could see a faint outline of the words, "If I Had Not Come."
With a sigh Bobby said, "Oh, what a terrible world this is - no Christmas, no churches, no homes for little orphan children, no hospitals, no rescue missions, no almshouses, nothing but jails and gambling-houses and police patrols and sickness and wrong and..."
Just then there came the sound of bells. The chimes were playing. Bobby listened, and sure enough, it was his favorite hymn, "Joy to the world, the Lord is come," and then he heard his mother's cheery voice saying, "Merry Christmas, Bobby!"
With a joyous bound, Bobby was out of bed, and kneeling down, he said, "O Lord Jesus, I thank You that You did come, and I'll show You how thankful I am by always trying to be the kind of boy You want me to be."
SOURCE: Based on a classic story originally written by Nan F. Weeks, this piece is now available widely on the internet. See, for example: http://www.angelfire.com/home/carolynsscrapbook/if_he_had_not_come.html
NOTE: To read more about what the world would really be like without Christmas, and thus without Christ and without Christianity, check out the book by D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe titled What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2001). In this excellent book, the authors detail Christianity’s impact on charity, education, politics, civil liberties, science, economics, sexuality, medicine, morality, art, and many other matters over the last two thousand years.