Leading up to Sunday, December 31: Part 5 out of 5
Friday, December 29: And the Good News is…
God is for us, and not against us, and He wants a new kind of world order where people relate to Him freely and willingly. He wants to show His justice to the nations of the world, so that the righteousness that is sown springs up and grows everywhere.
The response can only be praise – everything and everybody released into unfettered praise of the One who is so good. Creation cannot help but respond to this new way of living with excitement, His hills, trees, creatures of every kind – and those made in His own image especially.
The prophets announced that, after a long and troubled history of God’s entreaty and man’s independence, this new order would come. This was God’s purpose. All Jews knew this, even if they didn’t necessarily know about it in detail. Yet the first announcement of the human birth of God’s own Son, the breaking in of God’s kingdom to our world, was made to the most ordinary people imaginable. Shepherds, who lived with their sheep much of the time, were of low social standing. Yet God sent angels to make the announcement to them first. They did as they were shown and made the discovery first.
What does this say to us? In our world, we gain standing through hard work and privilege comes to certain people whose background or achievements give them particular merit.
The kingdom of God shakes all of this up. Merit is conferred by God by His grace, not earned distinction, and more grace is often given to those the world considers undeserving. So angels appear in the light of glory to shepherds, not religious leaders. Who is going to listen? Who is going to respond? Who will convey the good news simply and clearly to others? God needs people who are not proud and preoccupied and privilege-minded – so He finds some shepherds.
The Good News is good and it is for all – but our attitude of heart makes a big difference to how we receive it. That is a choice we have, and the less we have in ourselves, the easier it is to be available to God.