What About God?

Annual pageants in churches around the world bring to life the names and roles of the people in the Christmas story. We know that Mary and Joseph chose obedience; the angels chose praise; the shepherds and wise men chose wonder. What did God chose in this story? What does this story teach us about God?

One of the first things that strikes me in this story is that God chooses to see the potential in his people, rather than the frailty of his people. The world saw Mary as an immature teenager; God saw the godly mother she would become. Joseph was a broken hearted man who had to have believed his fiancé betrayed him; God saw a man who would love and protect the Son of God as he grew up. The world saw shepherds as unimportant; God saw their capacity for joy and invited them to celebrate. The Wise Men were honored for their education; God saw men who needed a personal introduction to the savior of the world.

A second thing that I see in this story is that no detail is too unimportant for God to handle. There has never been a time when God rocked back on his heels, and said, “I never saw that coming!” He handles the details before he leads us forward. Elizabeth was pregnant just before Mary, so I suspect that is where Mary learned about pregnancy and birth. All the rooms in Bethlehem were full; what was it that made the innkeeper offer them his stable, rather than just turn them away? The wise men brought gifts fit for a king, but hardly appropriate for a baby. I wonder if the value of those gifts supported the holy family as they fled to Egypt and hid from Herod for a couple of years?

A third thing I see about God here is that no matter the circumstances, no matter the status or mood of the individual, God comes to us. He comes to people like shepherds who are not looking for him. He comes to people like the Wise Men who have to leave where they are to seek him. He comes in ways we don’t expect. He may show up in a stable, on the Damascus Road, or walking on water. He comes to people who don’t love him back, who don’t acknowledge or appreciate the sacrifice he makes for them. He loved, healed, taught, and fed people who never understood who he really was, who never realized they were face to face with God.

The God of the universe intentionally left the glory of heaven to appear in the humility of a stable, covered with the frailty of human flesh. All of this demonstrates his incredible love for such an undeserving people. He didn’t just want to protect us from the punishment of hell; he wants to provide the salvation that will allow us to spend eternity with him. All he asks of us is that we believe he is who he says he is, and that we trust his love enough to obey his plan.

May you be awed and humbled by the incredible love of this holy God, especially during Christmas. May your response to him be to seek his presence, and may you find joy and peace as we celebrate this incredible interruption in history.