(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)
What if it's you?
11th December 2008
In Chapter 2 of his gospel, Luke tells us about the night Jesus was born. Most of the people had no idea it was happening. It certainly came as something of a shock to a group of shepherds nearby:
What if it was you? What if you were out one night, minding your own business. Perhaps coming home after visiting a friend, or from the pub? Perhaps working as a security guard?
The shepherds were ordinary, working people. There were not very poplar (in those days, shepherds were not held in the same affection as they are today). They had no expectation of anything different happening tonight than had happened every other night Ė which wasnít very much.
And, suddenly, an angel appeared and the Glory of the Lord shone around them.
What if it was you?
Well, at least your theological musings about whether angels really existed would be answered.
And I expect youíd be terrified Ė as they were. Suddenly, religion wasnít just theory any more. Questions about whether belief in God is relevant to modern society, or about whether it was a lot of nonsense made up to control the workers or a lot of hokum that weak people believe to help them cope with their own inadequacy, become irrelevant. God is real, and his angel is here. And itís terrifying.
Many nice, working class people (and others) dismiss Christianity (and all religion) because theyíve never experienced the power of God. But now, these shepherds couldnít ignore God. And their first reaction on encountering something of His kingdom was terror.
Itís funny that, after years of being dismissive of the things of God, or even of mocking them, our first reaction to encountering the kingdom of God is terror. But then, when you realise that God's alive, and He's here, and youíre aware of your treatment of His holy Name over the years, terror is an appropriate response.
God was listening to every blasphemous word you spoke.
Although our fist reaction to the idea of God being real is one of fear, God and His servants (angels and Christians) seek to assure us that the kingdom of God is good news.
Of course, if God does exist, then He gets to decide what happens. He gets to lay down the law. He is more powerful than we can imagine. And He will judge us all one day. In a way, that is rather scary. But really, itís good news that God is there for us. Itís good news that there is justice in this universe. And itís fantastic news that God sent Jesus into the world.
The angel called it ďgood news of great joyĒ. And itís for ALL the people!
When I was younger, we had a saying:
Smile! Jesus loves you!
So Ė what if itís you? Is God seeking you? Are you becoming aware that the kingdom of God is real? Donít be afraid. Jesus has come to show you Godís love and to put things right.