I’ve got ‘Messenger’ (the Facebook communication app). And ‘Messages’ (the texting app). And then there’s ‘What’sApp’. And the ‘Messages’ bit of Twitter. And ‘Mail’ and… With all these messaging apps on my iPhone I find it hard to keep up with it all, which means I sometimes miss a message or occasionally find it too late. Messaging is hard these days.
Go back to the first Advent, and people never struggled with God’s messaging! Like my iPhone God used multiple methods but each one was perfect for the person receiving it and the context they were in. Basically, the Lord found a way to get people’s attention and communicate clearly. So he messaged through Scripture (Mt 1:22; Mt 2:5; Mt 2:17). He messaged through angels (Greek: angelos which literally means ‘messenger’ – Lk 1:11; Lk 1:26; Lk 2:13). He messaged through dreams (Mt 1:20; Mt 2:13; Mt 2:19). He messaged through encouraging people (like Simeon and Anna – Lk 2:34; Lk 2:38). He messaged through prophetic people (Lk 1:46ff; Lk 1:67ff; Lk 2:28ff). He even messaged through the constellations (Mt 2:2)! God found a way for the right people at the right time to receive his message: the good news that the Saviour has been born.
But notice something important about the messaging. It wasn’t sent to everyone. Many people got on with life that first Advent unaware that Christ had been born. They only got the message if it was passed on by someone who’d received it.
All this reminds us that unless God’s good news message is forwarded, then it’ll be kept to a select few. But that’s not how it’s meant to be. The message is to be passed on (Lk 2:17; Mt 28:19). But like God’s messaging, we must try to do that well and appropriately to each person in every situation. If we ask his Spirit, he will guide us to do this appropriately.
However, that doesn’t mean that everyone will like the message. The Advent stories show us that even with the best intentions, some will respond negatively – like Herod who found the message troubling (and who’s response was extreme and tragic – Mt 2:16). We need to be realise that not everyone will respond positively and we must be prepared for a ‘no’. Some will find the message threatening (‘I need to hand my life over to Jesus?!’) Some will find the message offensive (‘I need saving from sin?!’) Some will think the message is simplistic (‘a baby in a manger?!’) Some will think the message is unbelievable (‘Angels? Virgin birth? Dreams? Really?!’) Some will find the message irrelevant (‘what’s this got to do with my life today?’) But many will be open and interested and ready, especially if the message is shared kindly with love.
So don’t be put off sharing the good news. Not everyone will be ready to receive it. But many will. It really is the best message of all time. So forward it. Be an Advent Messenger today. With courage and love.
ACTION: Think of 2 people known to you who’ve not yet received the good news message of Christ. Invite them today to join you at a Carol Service or social occasion at Christmas.
PRAY: That they would come! And then spend some time giving thanks for the people in your life who’ve forwarded the good news to you. Finally, pray that the message of Christ would be heard and received by many in your town, region and nation, this Christmas.