Honor and Humility Part 1: Jesus chose to be born not to a king or an emperor, but in a poor family.

#1 Jesus chose to be born not to a king or an emperor, but to a poor family.

I heard an atheist once attack the origin of Jesus’ birth: Why did Jesus come in a less-populated, mostly illiterate place in the world to reveal Himself?  Why not go to the Chinese, who were so much more intelligent and advanced in society?  Or why not come to us today, when we have the scientific knowledge to ‘prove’ or ‘disprove’ His miracles?

Soon after I heard this argument, I was captivated by it–but not in the way it was intended.  I was captivated that Jesus, who of course knew what atheists would say about Him in the second millennium, chose to come TO a paltry little people in a dusty wilderness anyway.  I find that a marvel of Him!

This really shouldn’t surprise us about God, if we know Him from the Old Testament.

He is the one who came to a runaway slave woman in the desert (someone who, in her society, was as pretty near worthless as you could get–that was Hagar).

He chose a man who couldn’t have children (that was Abraham) to found a nation, and a man who couldn’t speak well (that was Moses) to lead that nation.

He chose a woman who had the most looked-down-upon job in society (a prostitute– that was Rahab) to rescue His spies, and He gave her a husband from His nation (something that would have been unthinkable in that day!).

He brought a woman who descended from a nation originating from incest and with a long history of idolatry (that was Ruth) into shocking honor (see Ruth 4:15) the line of Christ.

He took a man from the least important tribe and the least important family in that tribe to become king (that was Saul).

And He even brought a king back from exile who had been so wicked he had killed his own children.  But because he repented (whether we would agree with God or not!) God restored even a wretch like him (that was Manasseh), revealing once again that His forgiveness and loving-kindness extends beyond our wildest imaginings.

Through the least likely of sinners, God carried His purpose through time and time again.  Through the lowliest of peoples, God showed His most benevolent grace and revealed that His plan worked through their lives, too (and more so than the lives of the ‘important’!).

Do you get a feeling that God loves humility?  It takes a long time for something as foreign as the concept of humility to penetrate my brain, but I’m starting to get the idea.

Now with this backdrop, let me again look at the birth of Christ.

Let’s be honest, you and I, let’s be really honest.  If we were coming as the Hero to save a people from their sins, how would we want to appear?

I might have something staged like one of the Marvel Comics series.  I’d showcase my super extraordinary superpower with a magnificent, attention-getting outfit.  I’d rescue people in dramatic fashion that would really get everybody’s attention!

I don’t know, I might shoot webs from my wrists and swing from skyscraper to skyscraper.  Or I might fly through the air and, as I pointed at bad people, blow them up.

Or maybe I’d choose not to be a superhero, but just really, really, impressively strong because of my hard work and effort.  I might be a martial-arts warrior with crazy coordination and incredible agility and let people see slow-motion replays of all my moves (I might have the angels videotaping my feats).

Or maybe I’d go more for the Jedi angle and I’d wave a light saber through the air.  Zzzzz!  Zzzzzz!  I’d wave my hand and play mind games and do back-flips and defeat the force of evil to the admiration of onlookers.

Or I could be a stunningly cool Lord of the Rings elf, and let precise arrows fly off my bow with the same ease as brushing my hair.

Or maybe I’d go for a shoot-’em-up style and I’d come with a big diesel truck of illegal weapons with blasting rock music and use machine guns to win my way into the respect of the people.

. . Do you and I think God didn’t know this is how we think?

Do we think He didn’t know that He could impress us more by coming to us this way?

Do we think He didn’t know that we would rather see movies about superheroes and legends and even gangsters than hear the story about how His invincible Son quietly entered the world of human fragility?

Does the nativity excite us the way a multi-planetary fight does?

Do we feel as eager to learn about God’s coming as a little baby as we do about a knight’s quest to slay mighty monsters?

Do we feel as drawn to the story of God’s first night in a barn the way we do to the story of a superhero who can scale buildings and kick-box the world into submission?

And what about all the cool cars, cool drugs, giant wealth, and cool powers of gangsters in movies?  Does not even evil often win our attention and approval over the humble good of the Son of God?

. . Did God not know how we felt?  Did He not know that we would look at the entry of His precious Son and have an attitude so very often of, Eh, before returning to the excitement of blockbuster movies, sports-playoffs and action-packed video games?

Oh yes.  He knew.

He knew.

And He still chose, perfectly carefully, to come as a tiny baby boy in a dark, unimportant, unnoticed manger.  He still chose for cattle and donkeys and sheep to be the first to see the Son of God.  He still chose for a young carpenter to hold Him in his arms.  For a poor, most-likely-teenage girl to be the first to count His ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes.  He chose to come to the world as a totally helpless, utterly vulnerable infant whose little head had to be supported.

Here is the Son of God.

Does that capture your attention?

It does mine.

And, when I think about it . . it captures my attention far more than the fake wonders of a superhero or Jedi Master or wizard or warrior or martial arts expert who cares more about impressing an audience than about saving them.

. . I am drawn to the mystery of that stable.  And the more I reflect on it, the more captivating God’s strength-of-love becomes for me . . and the less inviting the shenanigans of an attention-hungry world.

To be agile and handsome and strong and brightly-costumed and loudly welcomed . . that really is something . . until you glimpse the birth of the Son of God.

She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. (Luke 2:7b, NLT)