Read Luke 1:8-20 and Matthew 2:1-12
I sometimes come across people who say that faith, or religion, or being a Christian is ‘not for me’. It’s like they’ve decided that followers of Jesus are a certain type of people, and they don’t fit, so that’s it. But, as we’ve been seeing over these last few days (by re-examining the Advent stories), God comes to all sorts of people who then become disciples. Young and old. Women and men. Ordinary people. And even unusual, curious or eccentric people! Age and gender are no barrier. Neither is personality. And today we’re going to see that social or economic background is no block either.
In UK culture, money is seen by most as a private thing. So it’d be rare for anyone to disclose how much they earn. I’ve often wondered why? What difference would it make? So what if someone else earns more or less than you? Does it matter? Clearly to some, it does!
Things are different for God. Our socio-economic circumstances are known to him and do not influence at all his love for us or his desire for us to become Christ-followers. He simply wants each of us to have enough to live on and to share with others and as such he has a particular concern for the poor. However wealthy we are, the bible teaches that if we’re generous with what God gives, he’ll give us more so we can give again. (If you’re not convinced, read 2 Corinthians 9:6-11 and 1 Timothy 6:17-19).
So when God sends his Son, the King of heaven, into the world that first Advent, where does he send him? Christ leaves the riches of heaven not for a sumptuous palace but for a simple stable! When God wants to declare his Son’s arrival to a waiting world, who does he tell? The fanfare of angels who with glorious singing declare his Advent come not to nobles and princes but to humble shepherds. Working-class men who were economically poor. They were the first to be told. The poor.
And yet Magi – wise men from the East – who were well educated and probably from well-off families were also included and told of Jesus’ coming. They travelled for weeks in search of the One born to be King of kings. And when they found him what did they do? They bowed down and honoured him. These men who were used to people bowing down to them knelt down and gave their devotion and gifts of love to this baby king. In the presence of the God-child, money and social background mean nothing. Giving worship and adoration are the only appropriate response.
So we see that both poor and wealthy – and all in between – were the kind of people God came to that first Advent. And it’s the same today. He comes for people like me and you. People like your next door neighbour who you’re just starting to get to know. People like the person who sits opposite you in the office. People like that man who works in the corner shop every evening. People like your local lolly-pop lady who day after day helps school children cross safely at that busy road round the corner. And also people like the self-made entrepreneur who was in the doctor’s waiting room with you this morning. The first class traveller in the airport terminal. The High Court judge who has a box at your football club. Even the lottery winner who overtook your earlier in their Maserati!
God is ready to meet with people from all sorts of social and financial backgrounds. He invites us to help him do that with a friendly smile, an act of kindness and a word of encouragement to those he puts in front of us. Never mind their background. Don’t write anyone off. There’s no religious-‘type’. After all, he’s called you!
ACTION: Think of someone you know who you think is unlikely to become a follower of Jesus because of socio-economic reasons. Ask the Holy Spirit to change your mind about them and that you’ll have an increasing expectation of them becoming a Christ-follower.
PRAY: Pray for someone you know who’s poor and not yet a follower of Jesus. Pray they’ll get the financial help they need. And pray they become a disciple and begin to be lifted out of the poverty cycle and use their money generously. Then pray for someone you know who’s rich and not yet a follower of Jesus. Pray for dissatisfaction with wealth alone, and that they’ll turn to Christ and use their money generously.