A Sneaky Christmas | Jesus’ Creed
When you read Bible stories, you are constantly caught in “I didn’t see it coming” moments. Abraham was 75 when God called him to found a new nation. Seventy-five is not the typical age to start great adventures, let alone become a first-time parent. Moses worked for his father-in-law, and any idea of his leadership abilities had been swallowed up by the worldly work of tending to flocks of sheep. No one saw Moses become one of the greatest rulers in the history of the world. Thousands of years later, we still cite his writings to resolve our most complex legal disputes.
We didn’t see that one coming.
We did not see David become the greatest king of Israel. When Samuel traveled to anoint David as the future king of Israel, the prophet had to ask Jesse, David’s father twice, if all of Jesse’s sons stood before the prophet. It was only then that Jesse remembered David. Hardly an enthusiastic endorsement for a future leader of the nation. His own father forgot about it!
We did not see Peter become the head of the disciples, let alone the early church. Yet Jesus saw something in him that no one else saw. The apostle Paul was a surprise to everyone. Remember, at the beginning of his ministry, the apostle Paul was hated by everyone. He did not have the confidence of the church which still feared him as a determined persecutor of the Way. The religious leaders who supported his intolerant mission believed that Paul had betrayed them. Who other than God would have thought that Paul would write letters for the church to read and study today?
If you and I had to choose a nation to influence the world, we wouldn’t have chosen Israel. There were more impressive nations all over the world. God chose the Jews. We would not have chosen Bethlehem. We would not have chosen Mary or Joseph or invited shepherds. And we wouldn’t have put the Savior of the world in a manger!
We serve a God who loves surprises. He walks on people. He fulfills his promises in a left handed manner. This is why nothing in the story of Christmas should surprise us. All the other world leaders announce their arrival with press conferences and deceptive fanfares. Our Savior was born quietly in a small town in a small country and no one seemed to notice him. He preached but did not stay in one place long enough to build a church or a university. His pulpit was found in the desert. His teachings have changed the world.
He claimed his throne by carrying a sinner’s cross and quietly announced his lordship on Easter Sunday with no one to see him come out of the tomb.
We didn’t see any of this coming.
A friend of mine says that God loves to play hide and seek because all the fun of the game is found. Christmas is about this time we are found.
We would all complain that we lost the innocent joy of Christmas. The celebration of the birth of Christ has been commercialized to the point that the feast is more a celebration of greed than of Christ.
Several years ago I decided I wanted to do something to get Christmas back. I wanted to do something to regain the surprise and bring that surprise of joy to someone who was not expecting it. So I started to look around and as you can guess there were plenty of opportunities. A few phone calls later, a check in the mail, and a daddy was able to bring Christmas to his family who didn’t expect much.
It’s the most fun I have. Besides spoiling my own family, it’s the best thing I do on Christmas.
Let me encourage you to do the same. We all know someone who doesn’t expect much for Christmas. Surprise them. Do something that no one other than God knows you are doing.
Throw a sneaky Christmas. Surprise someone with joy. Too many of our friends are like the world this First Christmas – they don’t expect much. Do something they never see coming. This is the way of Jesus.