We don’t deserve the sentiment. We have done nothing to show God that the gifts that He bestows upon us are welcome. We live in His world as if we are the owners rather than invited guests. We are not good neighbors.
Just today I got angry at a fellow driver, swore under my breath at the road worker who told me to go “slow”, and avoided the eyes of a homeless man standing on a corner. I supposedly work for Him, but definitely don’t portray myself in a good light.
I sit down and turn on the TV and see lives destroyed every couple minutes. I go over to the religious channels seeking some refuge and am bombarded with information as to why one place is better than the other.
“Come to our church…we have a coffee bar!”
“Come to our church…our youth program is out of sight!”
“Come to our church…we have great music!”
“Come to our church…we are contemporary/traditional!”
“Come to our church…we’ve got it all!”
I always picture God just sitting with His head buried in His hands wondering aloud to the angels, “Are they ever going to get it?”.
It has to be comical to God sometimes. I wonder what it looks like on a Sunday morning when He watches His people start their daily pilgrimages. Here are all of these self-proclaimed Christians passing each other on the streets and sidewalks without even a nod hello. They quietly move to their respective buildings and then the mouths open in prayer and song. An hour later it is back into the cars and the process reverses itself. A world full of “in the box” Christians just making their way through life.
We are a family that has become disconnected. We are relatives that don’t even realize that they live in the same town. We are children who want to play but have forgotten how.
So what do we do?
When this happened before, God sent the world a gift that had the sole purpose of bringing His people together again. That gift is still present today. There was a baby born to a brave girl and this child was sent for all of humanity. He was born in a time of war, turmoil, and hatred. His parents were poor and worried about money. There was disease and natural disasters were a constant threat.
Their world looked like….our world.
This gift was not a onetime deal. This was a gift designed to stay for eternity. This little child would be raised to teach, love, heal, and die for humanity. He would save all of us from ourselves. We are not capable of living a life of perfection and so God sent us a child to give us peace. This child would eventually hang on a cross to forgive all of our sins.
That person that stands in line with you at the grocery store, the child who waits at the bus stop in front of your house, all of the churches that you pass on your way to worship?
He died for them.
My brothers and sisters in Christ it is time to change. We do not have the ability to determine which person is “right” in the eyes of God. I do not believe that God sits on a throne and decides with great authority who will enter and who will be shut out. I refuse to buy into the fact that one church is better than the other. We can attempt to put God in the box with us but He refuses to be confined.
So where is God?
God is in the manger. God is in the heart of a child born into a world whose main goal was to make sure that he died before he reached the age of two. God is in the voice of an angel that tells Mary that all will be okay. God is in the eyes of Joseph who was given the responsibility of raising a child who would change the world.
This was a gift given to all. We are the recipients of the greatest present ever made. We are loved.
The next time a mini-van of people passes you on a Sunday morning, give a little wave…they may be on the way to open the same gift that you are going to unwrap.