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The Shepherds

(Luke 2:8-20)

Lesson 3 -- first quarter 1997
December 15, 1996

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1996, Christian Light Publications

Ever wish you had been one of those shepherds chosen to witness these historic events? They got to hear first the most stunning news for a Jew of that day--the Messiah had finally arrived. In addition to that, they had the enviable opportunity to go see Him themselves, right then. Can you image the near- incredulity they experienced as they listened to the angels? And can you fathom the range of feelings that were theirs as they stood before the tiny Promised One, and tried to come to grips with the fact of Whom they had before them? With ample reason they returned "glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen."

Would you trade places with the shepherds? I wouldn't. Nope! They knew the incredibly wonderful experience of seeing God in the flesh. But perhaps that was the extent of the experience for most of them. What about us? We have full atonement, forgiveness and salvation through the blood of the Sacrificial Lamb. We have the indwelling, empowering, enlightening Holy Spirit. And we have the completed revelation of God to man in the Scriptures. Trade places? No thanks! This ought to lead us to "glorifying and praising God."

What have you heard and seen during this particular Christmas marathon? Carols, tinkling, programs and "Merry Christmas"? Lights, live nativity scenes, potlucks and gifts? What have you uttered and shown? What have others heard from and seen in you? I wonder where the genuine "glorifying and praising God" comes in. We can recite the proper passages and sing the fitting songs, but does it all come from the heart or is it just the mechanical response of a battery-operated robot? God will never be glorified and praised that way! Never!

Now let's shift a little so we can see Christmas from another angle. I wonder how many of our Christian brothers and sisters do without at Christmas. Without adequate food, clothing and shelter. Without medical, educational and vocational help. Without the essentials, much less the finery; without basics, much less extras. And we had enough to splurge on wrapping paper, bows and cards; we had enough to receive and give mostly non-essentials. Shall we ever give an account for failing to practice Christmas with Christ in it instead of covetousness?

Yes, yes, I'm still in touch with reality. I know the cultural conventions and social expectations we must deal with. But I want to know, Where are the separated and non-conformed at Christmastime? Where are the strangers and pilgrims at Christmastime? If Christ isn't in and among the Christians at Christmastime, where then shall He be found?! Look, let me be real blunt, OK? I look around me at Christmas and see publicans and sinners everywhere. So do you and so does the Lord. Can we look in the Church and see something different?!

"And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same" (Luke 6:33).

"But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just" (Luke 14:13,14).

If you must "hide" your gift to someone, why not recycle a newspaper, last year's gift wrap or a paper sack? If you feel compelled to give a card, why not use a sheet of typing paper and some crayons or marking pens? And if you can't figure out what to give someone who already "has everything," why not suggest you both give to someone truly in need? In other words, why not take the personal, lowly, non-commercial approach God took so long ago?

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