(With tongue firmly planted in cheek, let us rethink this greatest of all stories.)
What was the Lord thinking, doing Christmas the way He did?
A Baby is born to an unwed couple after a long, arduous journey. The cradle is a feeding trough in a stable in Bethlehem. Welcoming committees of shepherds and foreigners show up. A murderous king sends his soldiers to slaughter babies. The young family flees to Egypt.
And thus the Son of God arrives on the scene.
Admit it. You would not have done Christmas that way. It’s not just us.
As the God of the universe, the infinite and omnipotent Heavenly Father, you could do anything you please, right? In the beginning, You created the Heavens and the earth, right? The opening statement of Scripture certainly establishes who is in charge. So everything is on the table. Nothing off limits.
“Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” It says that right there in Psalm 115:3.
Now, all I’m saying is that had I been God and in charge, with no one to tell me ‘no’ and no supervisory authority to question my actions, I think I might have done things differently.
Take that stable.
“‘…your ways are not my ways,’ saith the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8)
Keep an eye on how the Lord works in your life. You might learn something useful for the next time He wants to use you.
This little couplet seems to sum up 90 percent of what Scripture and life teach us concerning the operation of God in this world….
When God gets ready to do a thing,
He loves to start small
Using ordinary people
With whatever methods He chooses,
And take HIs own good time about it.
Only people of faith will still be standing there at the end
To see what He has done
And to behold His glory.
That’s how He does things. You can see it all through Scripture and by looking back over your lifetime.
But here is the problem. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are different from ours. He is in fact light years above and beyond us and our techniques. (He said that very thing in Isaiah 55:8-9.)
I don’t know what you think about in the wee hours of the morning when sleep eludes you, but this was on my mind this morning.
People are different from all other animals God made.
We sit in front of the television watching nature shows and swoon at the images of baby tigers, baby baboons, baby anythings.
We are wired that way, to love the creation around us.
I walk the path in our little neighborhood and breathe in the Autumn air and delight in all the hues of the leaves in a hundred trees. They carpet the ground where I walk our dog, and they are enchanting.
The dog, however, never noticed.
“Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, and of the son of man who is made like grass?” (Isaiah 51:12)
Reading through the gospels, watching the interaction between the religious bigshots as they bully the Lord Jesus Christ–imagine that!–and suddenly, we are brought up short by noticing the prominent role fear played in the lives of these people. Consider…
–“Herod feared the multitude” (Matthew 14:5). Ah, a good reminder that tyrants always fear their subjects. Always.
–“The Pharisees feared the multitude” (Matthew 21:46). And so do religious bigshots fear their people.
–King Herod feared John the Baptist (Mark 6:20). Wickedness fears righteousness because it cannot understand it, cannot control it, can’t intimidate it, and cannot silence it. God’s faithful people must never lose sight of this for one minute.
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect….” (Matthew 5:48)
First, let’s get the theological argument out of the way.
Let’s make this perfectly clear: God knows you are not perfect and will never be this side of Glory.
And even clearer: “God does not expect sinlessness out of you and me. He is under no illusion about us.” See Psalm 103:14 “He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.” And Romans 3:10 “There is none righteous, no, not one.” Or how about, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (I John 1:8).
Got that? The illusion of sinless perfection is all ours, my friend.
“Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen…. By faith we understand….” (Hebrews 11:1ff)
There are good reasons not to believe in God, not to believe in Jesus, and not to believe in Holy Scripture.
A wise servant of the Lord will want to learn what they are and why people hold on to them. In doing so, he will better understand his own belief and will be able to respond to the questions/attacks of unbelievers.
This is far more important than the typical Christian realizes.
We cannot effectively counter the resistance of the unbeliever–whether he/she is a seeker, an agnostic, skeptic, atheist, or full blown antagonist–until we learn why they reject the heart of the message of the Christian faith.
Faith. It starts with this and perhaps ends there also.
“But Thou, O Lord, dost laugh at them; Thou dost scoff at all the nations” (Psalm 59:8).
I think it was Erma Bombeck who said, “Know how to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans.”
Or maybe it was Joan Rivers.
Anyway. It’s right on the mark.
The writer for Our Daily Bread said this: I was washing my car one evening as the sun was preparing to kiss the earth goodnight. Glancing up, I impulsively pointed the hose at it as if to extinguish its flames. The absurdity of my action hit me, and I laughed.
I get a kick out of seeing how prophecy experts bend over backward trying to locate the United States–as well as whatever country happens to be giving us headaches at the moment–in Scripture. As though our moment in history is so huge and our place in God’s plan so essential, how dare anyone suggest He could have planned the grand sweep of history without our being given a starring role.
Isaiah 40 has a good word on this.
I do always do the things that are pleasing to Him. –John 8:29
“Well, I know there’s a lot of big preachers that know a lot more than I do, but it could be that the good Lord likes a little pickin’ too.” –Tom T. Hall, “The Year That Clayton Delaney Died”
Yogi Berra watched as the batter approached the plate. The Yankee catcher had seen it all, and this guy was like so many: eager to get a hit, but needing all the help he could find. The batter stood at the plate and made the sign of the cross, then pointed toward the skies, both symbols of prayer as he summoned the Almighty to his aid.
“Hey buddy,” said Yogi from behind his mask, “Why don’t we just let the Lord enjoy the game?”
I’m with Yogi.
That begs the question of course. We wonder if the Lord enjoys a baseball game occasionally.
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
A Facebook friend had written something about Scripture and people were leaving comments. One person in particular was giving her a hard time.
I suppose the critic was her friend, because after his unkind and cutting remarks, she patiently responded with kindness and reason.
But nothing worked. This guy was determined to be mean-spirited.
When one is determined not to believe, no amount of truth or reason or logic can penetrate the protective armor of alibis, arguments, excuses, and slander in which he clothes himself.
He had found a contradiction in Scripture, he said, that convinced him the whole business of Christianity was nothing but a con.
What was his “contradiction”?
“If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how shall you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:12)
I don’t know what you think about when lying awake at night unable to sleep, but recently my mind has dwelt on the wonders of there being a planet Earth in the first place, and all that this means for the children of God.
The Psalmist said “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). I read that and think, “If you only knew, King David. You spoke those words three thousand years ago. What if you knew what we know now! The human body is truly the marvel of the ages.”
And yet, the earth is also just as fearfully and wonderfully made. Just as awe-inspiring, with as much the signature of the Divine on it as any human carries.
Consider this one thing: HOW MANY FACTORS ARE REQUIRED FOR EARTH TO SUSTAIN LIFE?
Any one of the following not being in place could kill the whole deal. And yet, they’re all there, in place, doing their job, while I sit here at a laptop in my dining room, with a cup of Dunkin Donut coffee to my right and earth all around me, requiring absolutely nothing from me. I am completely in awe of this.