The Response to the Story
First, come and see just as the Wise Men did. Come and see the one born King. Come and see the one who was cut off for your sakes. Come and look long at the one who lost his life so that you could have life. To trust in Christ simply means to claim credit for what he has done. You have been working to earn credit with God, with your spouse, with your boss, with yourself. The problem is you have no credit. You never feel as if you have done enough to prove yourself; to justify yourself. Guess what– you haven’t and you can’t. That’s why Christ was born and lived before God as you should have—he never shut God out. He always honored God. At every point he obeyed God and gave him priority. And he is asking you to look at him and take credit for what he has done. You’ll have that opportunity in just a moment.
Secondly, our church has to work towards the same kind of diversity we see in Matthew’s gospel. There is no segregation in the kingdom of Jesus, therefore there can be no segregation in his church. There can be no segregation in our small groups. There can be no person who can’t enter our services and hear the good saving news of Jesus.
One of the key signs that a church isn’t diverse enough is that everyone is comfortable. You are comfortable with the, with the energy level, with the people on stage, with the social strata. A sign that your small group isn’t diverse enough is that you’re comfortable. You are comfortable with the makeup of the group, the people leading, the way everyone prays, the outreaches you are involved with. A church, or small group, that’s working towards gospel honoring diversity is one in which you aren’t always comfortable. In other words, there can’t be any one reigning culture that excludes all other cultures. The gospel of a Christ who came to redeem every nation tribe and tongue has to challenge the way our church looks and acts. It has to challenge the way your small group meets and who it invites. We always have to strive to reflect the diversity of the nativity- shepherds and wise men.
Finally, we have to go and die just as Jesus did. It’s natural for us to love those who love us and hate those who hate us. But, Jesus rejected that ethic even in his birth. He left the most exclusive gated community to move into the neighborhood of those who hated him. Jesus rejected that ethic for his disciples in his first sermon. Matthew 5 when he said “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”.
Finally, Jesus categorically rejected that ethic on the cross. So what we see in the nativity, and the teachings of Jesus and the death of Jesus is a new kind of ethic. It’s an ethic of sacrifice. Nothing demonstrates the effect the gospel has in our lives than when we sacrifice for those we disagree with, those who cannot pay us back, and those who attacks us. Many of you have been apart of that this Christmas season. Celebrate.
Church–when you really see the eternal God coming to live and die in human flesh it changes everything about you. It calls us to be a diverse church looking more and more like the diversity of God’s kingdom. It causes us to love our enemies, just as God for Christ’s sake loved us.