Jesus’ Birth Changes Our Perspective
The shepherds in the field were the lowest of the low, according to the hierarchy of society. The people in the Christmas story start at the top with Caesar, then the governors, then Pharisees and Sadducees, then Joseph, then Mary, then newborn baby Jesus lying in a manger…then at the bottom, the shepherds. Angels came to announce a realignment, a correction of hierarchy. Of all those on the list above, the good tidings of great joy was for all people starting with shepherds. Jesus’ birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection challenges us to change our perspective starting with how our “King” arrives…
Shepherding is not only one of the world’s oldest occupations, it’s also a metaphor for the concern, oversight, responsibility and protection required of souls in the church. This kind of work isn’t for the weak. You get our hands dirty serving others. You stay up nights worrying about your flock. But we have Good News…Jesus was promised to be our eternal Shepherd.
We all need a Good Shepherd
It’s been a very tough week but I feel there is Purpose when we seek truth amid troubling times. Knowledge is power and there’s peace in that power.
We had an impeachment in 1998. It was during that process that I started paying very close attention to politics. I already paid some attention because of my job as a radio personality whose show included the Noon news segment. Due to the impeachment I paid very close attention because it was the first time in my life that I realized how people behave and speak on the floor of the House and Senate. I was appalled. I was gobsmacked. And I was hooked. From that day forward I paid even closer attention to all aspects of politics and became much more deeply involved. I have a printed copy of the Constitution in my desk and searchable copy on my phone. How else can I know what is and is not Constitutional? 🙂
I pay attention to seek who speaks truth to power. Politicians are fascinating people. They are not all crooked, as so many claim. I have had the honor and privilege of working with a few and meeting many more. Some are quite lovely. Some speak plainly. All keep going despite the incredible impact on their own lives, families, health, safety, and peace. I respect everyone who wants to take on public service. It is not for the faint of heart. Neither is being a Christian. I believe the Bible is truth. I believe God uses whom he chooses to accomplish his plan for ALL nations, even the most unlikely among us. But this is the key…
Not once has God sought my permission or agreement regarding his plan or the people he chooses. Every day I ask Him to guide me to BE part of the plan by placing me with the people he chooses.
There’s wisdom there.
God sees the end from the beginning, and every individual as they truly are. Only he knows what needs to happen next. God reveals next steps to individuals he chooses so that they will act upon that step, if they choose to. But who He reveals this to is not up to us. There’s wisdom there, too. I’ve seen surprising things created, completed and performed by the unlikeliest of folks, and always I’m amazed at what God can make possible through the willing.
In the Bible you see people others scoff at used for God’s good purposes; a prostitute (Rahab) protects Joshua’s spies and defies a king and becomes King David’s great grandmother, yes, an ancestress of Jesus. A fallen woman at a well is one of the only people outside the disciples to whom Jesus reveals that he is the Messiah and as a result, she goes to town and literally brings people to Jesus. A pretty nasty Christian persecutor transforms into the Apostle Paul. I could go on. Certainly King David is an example you cannot dismiss. Started out lowly, a shepherd, anointed by God to be king, protected, a ruler, then not so nice, not so fair, not so lovely. But he was repentant. And we are all afforded the same right to repent of our own sins. You can’t repent for another, nor can another repent FOR you. Now, let’s be very clear. I’m not comparing any individual to any Scripture individual, just stating fact.
There are several examples of “unlikely” heroes in the Bible. The point here is, if you want a godly hero you have to be willing to do what is needed to make that happen and give God thanks when it does, even if the hero isn’t personally palatable to you. Think about how their contemporaries “felt” about Moses, and David, even Jesus. Discipleship requires discipline. And discipline is hard. We are challenged by Jesus to change our perspective about our fellow man and woman so that we will change our actions and reactions to them. We don’t have the luxury of living like an unsaved person while claiming to follow Christ. That’s hypocrisy. We are further challenged to bring about justice and righteousness for His sake. When we see injustice, we are to call it out. We must work to restore justice. We must call speak truth to power, even when the one in power is a person you personally supported. Their actions are not yours, but your response to their actions belongs to you.
There is NEVER a right reason to do the wrong thing. We may try to qualify our sin by stating the choice we made couldn’t be “helped” but we are created in the image of God and part of that image is the ability to reason. Doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, or why you do it. If it’s the wrong thing to do, and we have criteria as Christians to follow, it’s wrong. That said…every one of us is a sinner and falls short. Loving correction in whatever form is required makes better people who repent and learn something through the consequences of our sin. This is why our sins must “find us out”. Our readiness to point out the sins of others must be balanced with mercy. By what measure would we wish grace and mercy to be applied to us when we sin?
We may be tempted to judge individual people involved in our politics as zeros who we can’t imagine will do anything good. God does what we cannot, right? What makes a zero into a hero in God’s plan? Repentance and Divine intervention brought about by prayer, faith and endurance and agreement to live as Jesus commands, not as the world demands. You will stick out like a sore thumb but…here’s the kicker…
If you aren’t praying for God to lead all of our leaders, who are you giving them over to and who do you hurt in that process?
1 Timothy 2:1-2 ESV First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
There’s your goal! We may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way if we pray for our leaders because we pray, God acts. We like to think we act and God agrees/approves. Not the way it works. We are required to consult God the Father regarding our response to a situation. We do not advise Him regarding his response and yet pray, “Thy will be done.”
The Bottom Line…
Pray daily for all who sit in authority over us, whether you like them or loathe them because no matter how we feel, Jesus loves them. He loves them when He’s correcting them, and loves us when he’s correcting us.
The earth is round for a reason. You can’t separate Earthlings, even with water. It’s still one earth. One world. There is no us vs. them. Only us vs. us. God will do great things through every single member of the House and Senate if we allow Him to by getting ourselves out of His way and praying into his plan. Allow for correction where it is required, mercy where it is needed and grace for all. Don’t let politics ruin the most important time of our Christian year. We are a family. Family matters.
A Prayer for the Season
O almighty God, by the birth of your holy child Jesus
you gave us a great light to dawn on our darkness.
Grant that in his light we may see light.
Bestow upon us that most excellent Christmas gift of love to all people,
so that the likeness of your Son may be formed in us,
and that we may have the ever brightening hope of everlasting life;
through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
(THE BOOK OF WORSHIP 1965, ALT.)
See you Sunday. ~ Pastor Theresa