If ever there was a time that God celebrated ‘the things that are not, to shame the things that are’ it’s gotta be Christmas.
Think about it.
A obscure teenage girl is chosen to conceive the Messiah and the husband chosen to provide for them both is a poor carpenter. The expectant couple can’t afford a silver taxi-service but gratefully accept the jolting back of a donkey. The king of the universe decides not to be born in David and Solomon’s royal city (Jerusalem), but bypasses it for the small village down the road - ‘thanks for the invite, but I’m good.” Once there, they can’t even make it inside the local two-star motel. The all-powerful Son of God bypasses the private hospital system and is delivered in a barn. No anesthetic or birthing centers in those days Mary! Sorry about that. And to add insult to injury an army of golden angels appear in the sky to sing above - not the wealthy leaders of the land - but the unwashed, unschooled, hired-help field-campers hanging out at night with the animals.
Who wrote this script? What sort of God is this? One that is shouting a loud message right from the get-go: “This is who I am. This is who I came for. Don’t feel bad for Me! I am entirely comfortable, right here.”
We are so familiar with this story that it can glide over our heads without making an impact. The powerful local king (Herod) gets outsmarted by three foreign ‘Magi’ who are willing to bow low and worship before a powerless baby Jew. Now that had to take humility - something Herod was apparently lacking.
The message of Christmas turns the world upside down. It declares with boldness that small things are big things. Humble things are great things. Overlooked things are the important things. Just insert the word ‘people’ in there and everything goes up another whole level. The small people in our eyes are big people in God’s eyes; the humble people you know are the truly great; and those whom it is easiest to overlook are often the most important. Royal even.
Here’s a question to ask ourselves this Christmas: ‘How low am I willing to bow?’ What tasks do you and I quietly consider ‘beneath us’ and hope to skip out on? Be honest now. Perhaps this may be the year to volunteer washing the dishes after Christmas dinner. Or talk to Aunt Mavis who may rave on for an hour about her kids. You could even invite that lonely person at church to lunch at your house. Radical, I know. Or reach out to our ‘modern shepherds’ - those doing the unseen grunt work during our holidays or sleeping on the streets by night.
Once a year God’s justice tips the whole world upside down. And we love it.
Imagine if the world was like that all year round and not just for a few days? How different would our homes, workplaces, relationships and world be? It’s not impossible you know. It’s definitely been attempted before.
Let today be the day. Start small. Look for the small, the hidden, the unexpected. And watch God surprise you!