I want to invite you to do something somewhat strange this morning- Imagine that you’re God. A little weird, I know, but follow me here. Imagine you’re God, and you want to introduce yourself to the world you made in the personal and impactful way possible. In a sense, imagine that you’re writing the story of the very first Christmas.
How would you do it? Who would you include? Under what circumstances would you make your grand arrival?
Chances are, you and I would choose to do things much differently than God actually did. But maybe, just maybe, the way that God chose to write the story of that first Christmas has something significant to teach us about the point of the story- about Him, and about us.
The story of Christmas is a story of the seemingly ordinary becomes undeniably extraordinary.
Consider the unusual cast of characters- an unwed teenage mother, a common carpenter, a group of backwoods shepherds, and an assortment of foreign “wise men.” And perhaps, oddest of all, God Himself is an infant, the fullness of deity laying in a feeding trough. This is far from a “who’s who” of the 1st century world. In a real sense, one could argue that not even one of these individuals is someone that you’d expect to find at the birth of a newborn King, the God-man Himself.
And yet, here they are, all in one place doing one thing- celebrating and worshipping this King. Strange as it may seem, when we look at the big picture of God’s work throughout history, it actually seems to fit. God has this crazy habit of taking unlikely and unexpected people- stunningly ordinary people– and doing some of His very best work in and through them.
What are we to take from this? How do we connect the dots from the there and then to the here and now? What does God aim to teach us- through Christmas- about the way in which He desires to relate to us today? I see two common threads running through the lives of everyone invited into the Christmas story, two characteristics that are absolutely essential to participating in the work of God in any age.
What are they? Humility and availability. Humility enables us to see ourselves as we really are, as God sees us. It helps us to find our sense of worth in who God says we are, instead of in all of the shallow and temporary labels this world places on us. It recognizes that on our own, we aren’t worthy of even a passing glance from God, and is absolutely wrecked by the fact that He would call us by name to come and be His forever.
This humble heart flows right into a posture of availability. If humility says, “God, I don’t deserve you,” then availability tags it with, “But if you want me, here I am.” Availability is an attitude that says “yes” to God before the specifics of the call even come, because we believe with all our hearts that if He is the One writing the story, then it’s a story worth dropping everything else in the world to participate in.
These attitudes- humility and availability- absolutely saturate the story of the first Christmas, as evidenced by the deep and joyful responsiveness of each character in the story to the call of God on their lives. My favorite expression of this attitude comes from Mary in Luke 1:38- “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your Word.” On their own, they were stunningly ordinary, but because they were willing to lay aside all of their reasons why they couldn’t be used of God, here we are over 2,000 years later, still talking about them.
Enough about them, though- what about you? What does God desire to accomplish in and through your “ordinary” life this Christmas and beyond? How does He want to write a chapter of His glorious story through you? I can’t answer that question for you, but I do know this- the only way to find out is through a heavy dose of humility and availability. When you give yourself over to God in wholehearted surrender- giving all that you are and all that you have, feeble as it may seem- you open the door to a world of extraordinary possibilities.
I want to challenge you to pray two simple prayers this Christmas season…
“God, I don’t deserve you, but thank you that in Jesus, you’ve chosen to love me anyway”
“Because you’ve loved me so well, I give myself wholly and completely to you”
When these two simple prayers become not just the words of your mouth, but the honest expression of your heart, you’ve positioned yourself to experience God in an incredible way, just as Mary, Joseph, those shepherds, and those “wise men” did many years ago.
So, what do you say? Will you lay aside your pride and open yourself up to God? What’s holding you back? Ask God to remove it and allow your ordinary life to be used for His extraordinary purposes.