When I was a kid our family often traveled for a summer vacation. Our highway travels took us all across the United States to a variety of destinations, some of which had “believe it or not” attractions. These varied from the billboard advertised “unbelievable” and “world’s largest” or “world’s greatest” this or that, to the only slightly more respectable Ripley’s museums you find in tourist towns. Despite getting my hopes up that we might stop, pay the fare, and feast our eyes on the unbelievable – as it turned out, I learned that our family (especially dad) were not believers when it came to these attractions. Instead we were treated to some of God’s more unbelievable natural attractions in the nation – Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, and so forth. In hind sight I think we got the better deal!
As you read the narrative accounts of Christ’s birth in Matthew 1 and Luke 2, they might strike you as containing stories that are too good to believe.Mary’s visit from the angel Gabriel and Joseph’s dream must have brought forth some initial disbelief and shock in their recipients. “How can this be?” Mary asks, but only after we are told that she is “much perplexed” and wondering about Gabriel’s announcement.
Later, the shepherds are “terrified” when they receive their own angelic visit with news of “great joy for all people.” Did they wonder if this news truly included them, societal outcasts who lived on the fringe of the community? Did the news, and angelic experience, seem too good, too much to believe?
When was the last time you had news that seemed too good to believe? How did you respond? What was your reaction?
Have you ever treated the Christmas message as if it were too good to believe? It’s a question that’s been hounding me this season. Are we too cavalier and casual with this story? Do we take it for granted? Give quiet assent to the miracle birth, but rationalize it some way in our own thinking? Do we overlook the magnitude of God’s perfect plan set forth in Jesus’ birth, including its very personal impact on our own life? I hope not.
The invitation we are given with Christmas is “to believe it”. To believe that God loves the world so much, that God is willing to give so much, so that we can experience so much in salvation and kingdom living. Yes, it is good; and yes, it is a lot to take in – but we can believe it. We are better for believing it. Believing it makes all the difference.
Let’s not be so busy looking for something better in life that we fail to see how God has given us something to believe in that is already the best. Believing it makes for a wonderful life.
#Advent #It’s a Wonderful Life #ConnectGrowServe