“In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them . . .” Luke 2:8-9a
God sent the birth announcement to shepherds because shepherds were not allowed in church.
The shepherds were such outcasts in society that they couldn’t even enter the temple.
They were not allowed in, though the very animals they were in charge of keeping would be used for religious sacrifice.
They were looked down upon by church people and not allowed in.
But God . . .
God went to them, FIRST. God shared the news with them, FIRST. God went to them because if He hadn’t there is a good chance they would have never known.
The reality that God went to the shepherds with the birth announcement shines some light for us on God’s heart. God loves all people and desires all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). Christmas isn’t for church people. Why? Church people already KNOW about Christmas!
Christmas is for those who don’t think they are worthy to come to church. Christmas is for those who aren’t worthy. Christmas is for outcasts and sinners and the broken and lonely.
It’s Christmas Eve. Many of us church people will be attending a Christmas Eve service. We should. I hope you go and reflect and worship and grow in your love of Jesus tonight. But let’s remember God’s heart for those who aren’t church people, yet. Let’s be intentional today. There will be those you see today who can’t get to a Christmas Eve service because we are buying last minute items from them or ordering food from them for our stomachs. Say a word to them about Jesus. Ask how you can pray for them. Thank them for serving your city by working.
There will be those you can invite to the Christmas Eve service tonight. Those who would never come unless they are invited. Call them. Bake them some cookies and take them to their house . . . invite them to come with you to the service before you leave.
Family members will be coming in today who do not consider themselves worthy to be “in church.” Love them. Be gracious to them. Invite them to church in a way that expresses there will be no judgment if they say no.
The fact that God went to the shepherds first is a reminder that the message of Christmas isn’t for church people. It’s for those who aren’t there yet. Sure – church people never outgrow their need to marinate in and understand the Gospel. But let’s remember – there are those who have yet to hear it for the first time and/or understand what it means for them. The heart of the Father is also for those who would never even think about attending tonight’s Christmas Eve service.
So, Go – Tell it on the Mountain. . .