Dec 162013 0 Responses

The Humility of Birth

We are to live the way Jesus came—humbly.

Whenever we read the Christmas story, it is easy to forget what is the most obvious. Jesus could’ve come to this planet however, whenever, wherever, and to whomever he wanted. When we read the Christmas story, we are reading the exact plan of God put into place before the beginning of time.

He didn’t come:

To run for political office.
To wage a coup against the powerful Roman government.
To become the leader of the Pharisees.

Jesus rejected positions of power and came in the way he thought best—as a tiny infant, to an unknown, unwed girl in an insignificant town.

It’s a funny contrast to our day in which everyone is trying to a build platform, gain an audience, grow their followers, and establish their authority. Jesus seemingly did the exact opposite.

The humility is striking. It caused Jesus to leave the notoriety of heaven and to enter into the small village of Bethlehem, to let loose the appearance of God and take on the form of a needy baby, and ultimately his humility allowed him to restrain his right as judge and to be judged to death by others.

Think about the story of Jesus—what part of the story would I have done had I been God? None of it.

I wouldn’t go from comfort to discomfort.
I wouldn’t go from significance to insignificance.
I wouldn’t go from being worshiped to being ignored.
I wouldn’t go from a heaven of love to a world of hate.

The Christmas story reveals a humble God.

And humility is magnetic.

A few years ago, we had an event at our church in which Max Lucado was the speaker.

Through college, seminary and the pastorate, I have been around several well-known Christian pastors. It is not always a good experience. But there was something striking about Lucado—he oozed humility. When people spoke, he listened. When small children asked for his autograph, he didn’t just sign the book, he described what he was doing and connected with each child. He didn’t demand a green room or make special requests. When we had dinner, I had a list of questions which I never got to ask because he kept asking about my life and our church.

I’ve been around some very good people who happened to be famous, but I’ve never been around someone like Max Lucado. I liked him before, but now there are few people for whom I root for like him.

Humility is magnetic. Yet pride has the opposite effect.

Pride divides. Show me a broken family, business, church or country and I’ll show you the effects of pride.

  • How many bands didn’t make it because one or all of them worried about one person getting more notoriety than the rest?
  • How many great teams only won one championship because they were concerned about who got the ball the most?
  • How many great churches fizzled and died because they were concerned with who was making the decisions?

Pride divides.

Yet humility is magnetic.

It is no accident that when we think about Jesus, the two great acts of his life—his birth and his death—are literal definitions of humility. No one can look at Jesus and say he was arrogant or insecure.

Instead, in the way he came and in the way he died, Jesus was defined by humility. What calls for more humility than suffering for someone else’s sins? What is a better expression of love than dying on someone else’s behalf?

When we look at Jesus, we see humility.

We often forget Jesus could’ve come however he wanted.  It is easy to read the Gospel account and to assume that Jesus just made the best of what he was given. It is easy to forget that this was literally the plan from the beginning of time.

If it wasn’t an accident the way that Jesus came, I can’t help but think that his coming was an example to us. He has called us to live as he came.

We are tempted to think that power makes the difference. We are tempted to seek out the loud and the obvious. We are tempted to believe that to make a difference we have to be the biggest or greatest. Jesus could have chosen that path, but instead he chose to come as a tiny baby to an insignificant girl in a no name town during a time well before mass communications. He didn’t chose political office or worldwide fame. He chose to change the world by taking twelve guys, showing himself to them and then sending them out to go tell others.

It was a path born of humility. It is the only path that makes God available to us.

It is no accident that the first recipient of Jesus on this planet—Mary—received him the same way he came. She received him in humility. She was shocked God chose her, amazed by God’s plan, and humbled to play her part. In response to what God was doing, she sang, “He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate.” (Luke 1.52, ESV)

Humility is magnetic. I assume that is why God chose to send Jesus in such a humble way. It is when his humility invades our lives that we respond to him in a humble way. As divine humility creates human humility, a relationship is formed.

As He came, we are now called to live. As we live humbly, He will use us to draw others to Himself.

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