Why in a Stable?
Why in a stable to poor lowly parents? Why a baby and not a debonair irresistible king? Have you ever wondered that? God’s logic seems a bit backwards at times doesn’t it? Whoever wants to be great must be a servant. (Matthew 20) Those who want to save their lives will lose it, but whoever loses his life for the Gospel will save it. (Mark 8) Sometimes you just wonder what God’s thinking is! You would imagine that the very God who spoke creation in to existence with just a word, the one parting the Red Sea after miraculous plagues pelted Egypt and the God who rescued three devout men unharmed from the fiery furnace would chose a different plan. He has the power to coerce anyone to His will if so chooses, but He didn’t choose this plan did He?
After Jesus’ death a great missionary movement was spawned, not because of some strategy, but because of persecution. The followers of Jesus were being wholesale killed with permission of the religious leaders and government in charge. Christians were relentlessly pursued throughout the known world trying to get them to stop claiming Jesus was raised from the dead and proclaiming Him as the promised Messiah. But they failed to stop the faithful. In their position of weakness they spread the Gospel faithfully and effectively across the lands.
Something changed over time though. The persecution stopped and Christians became main stream. The ruler Constantine in 312AD embraced Christianity when he had a vision of a cross during the battle of Milvian Bridge. Embracing Christianity opened up great avenues in the Roman society as religious freedom become the norm, slaves were given Sundays to rest and unwanted babies could no longer be killed. By the year 378 Theodisius made Christianity compulsory and Christians from a position of power burned property, looted and killed in the name of Jesus. Why did the church begin to shrink when it seemed to just conquer the world?
Misguided leaders have tried through force to spread their brand of Christianity on and off throughout the ages. Medieval knights marched toward Jerusalem armed with sharpened swords, bodies encased in armor and minds with righteous indignation because the holy city was under siege from the Muslim invaders. God was on their side and would guide their swords! During this period Christianity shrank drastically – giving ground instead of gaining converts to Jesus. Why did the church spread rapidly when persecuted and powerless but died suddenly when it gained power? When the church was given power it immediately lost its ability to communicate love.
Jesus was all about love and He desires for us to be exactly like Him in this regard. We have to be careful not to have legalistic or judgmental attitudes that spring out of selfish superficial motives. In Romans 9 love in operation is described as this,
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil and cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer, share with God’s people in need, practice hospitality. Bless those that persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those that rejoice; mourn with those that mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people in low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
When reading the Gospels about Jesus this constant theme comes through, “and He had compassion on them”. He had compassion on the whole world to such an extent He would rather serve us than coerce us. Jesus overtook the world with love and we can do the same “…in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”(Romans 8:37) Why a baby in a stable? Would you have it any other way?
This daily devotion is written by John Key