Phil Cox


(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)

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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:

Verses 8-9
And there were shepherds living out in the fields near by, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

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 – which wasn’t 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 you’d be terrified – as they were. Suddenly, religion wasn’t 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 it’s terrifying.

Many nice, working class people (and others) dismiss Christianity (and all religion) because they’ve never experienced the power of God. But now, these shepherds couldn’t ignore God. And their first reaction on encountering something of His kingdom was terror.

Proverbs 9v10
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

It’s 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 you’re 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.

Verses 10-11
But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.

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, it’s good news that God is there for us. It’s good news that there is justice in this universe. And it’s fantastic news that God sent Jesus into the world.

The angel called it “good news of great joy”. And it’s for ALL the people!

When I was younger, we had a saying:

Smile! Jesus loves you!

So – what if it’s you? Is God seeking you? Are you becoming aware that the kingdom of God is real? Don’t be afraid. Jesus has come to show you God’s love and to put things right.