Saturday, November 29, 2014

Space Only for the Lowly In the Manger

Romanticism is the modern theme of Christmas when the reality was far from it. Jesus was born in squalid and cramped conditions; his ultra young parents (by today’s standards) were about as vulnerable as you could find; their company were animals and shepherds (who were lowly in that society); they had no protection from death had the birth gone wrong.
But, of course, God orchestrated these tough circumstances. He appeared as the Incarnation, Emmanuel, meaning “God is with us.”
The Lord chose Jesus to be born not in lavishness, but in lowliness. Just as Jesus could have lay claim to being the Saviour of the World in his fullest glory, that wasn’t the Father’s plan. Jesus would die a nothing. He took no entitlement, and, just as much, he took no right for being God for granted.
He reversed the order of self-justice, from that of fighting for one’s rights to the surrendering of same, for others’ blessing. Jesus exemplified the nature of shepherds (John 10:1-21).
The Caring Nature of Shepherds
Here are two key reversals: 1) the shepherds (society’s lowly) were ordained a divine role in the Nativity story – the first evangelists (Luke 2:8-20); and, 2) the elevated in society were clueless, as was the case with King Herod. From Jesus’ time, the shepherd rose to prominence, but only for what they did, which highlighted the type of people they were. They would risk their lives for their sheep. They devoted their lives to the care of their sheep. Who better to entrust the message of God with than shepherds.
The humble are exalted. The exalted are humbled.
The shepherds were fitting visitors to the manger; they insisted not in glory for themselves and came to serve God’s interest and knew they were blessed.
Our Opportunity As Shepherds – Today
Every believer in Christ is a shepherd, as every believer has an anointing to build others up. If we are interested enough to serve God’s interest, the Lord will give us those in manger situations to serve – angels who are vulnerable and clothed in rags.
Ours is the opportunity of hospitality – not simply to invite them home, but to invite them into our hearts.
This is a simpler mandate than we could conjure ourselves. Seeking the vulnerable in our own backyards, we do little things (the littler the better), but we do them with habitual consistency.
We identify our sinner’s pride and we pour contempt on it – we, ourselves, are nobodies if we identify with Jesus. As the shepherds were nobodies, and served God’s interest, and as Jesus was born and died a nobody, we too are to become circumstantial nobodies – though we are royalty in God’s eyes.
We retrace our bigotry and rescind it. We stare our fears in the eye. We overcome the pernicious propensity to reject people with our eyes, ears, and tongue.
We begin to see our rejections as our rejecting Jesus! We shudder and so we should. And then we turn about face and repent by bringing the rejected into the lap of our arms.
Only the lowly can serve. The lowly God will save and use for his glory. The lowly will serve the lowly. Will you be lowly?
What is life and our living reason?
What is love in this Christmas season?
Jesus born that day in the Manger,
Jesus, today, loves the stranger.
As was that day way back when,
Jesus, today, welcomes all women and men,
Not just the ones who look all good,
But especially the ones we all should.
Jesus’ challenge is to love those low,
To love them truly with dignity to bestow.
People everywhere need this Christmas love,
People everywhere need God above.
Our opportunity is to give a hand,
To love like Jesus and make a stand,
Let’s reach out and touch all who are rejected,
With this love only Jesus has effected.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

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