It shouldn’t come as a surprise when I tell you that I can quote Luke’s version of the Christmas story from memory.
‘And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.’ Luke 2:1 KJV
It doesn’t appear in the text, but imagine the social chaos from Caesar’s decree. People had to stop working and travel back to their hometowns. Upon arrival, they had to register with the government and pay taxes, and they would have had to show a receipt to government officials to prove that they had paid their taxes. As an added challenge (and I’m only speculating here), it’s safe to say that Caesar Agustus didn’t consider where people would sleep when they travelled to register and pay their taxes. Why let creature comforts get in the way of the inefficient implementation of government policies? It’s also safe to say that Mary and Joseph weren’t the only people sleeping in stables.
Contrary to the words of the familiar Christmas carol, All was NOT calm; All was NOT bright!
Still, God was working out His eternal plan to redeem lost humanity, and Jesus was born in a stable, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.
Consider this for a moment: Jesus’s birth is brought to us courtesy of a government mandate and a chaotic social situation that made people angry and upset!
Bear with me as I modify the familiar Christmas text by one letter.
‘And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be vaxed.’
I know this is a trigger issue, and that’s not my purpose in writing. If you find yourself vexed that I would mention being vaxed, I need to, in the words of a former pastor, remind you that if you don’t forgive me, you can’t go to heaven. 😀
My intent isn’t to change anyone’s mind on an issue. I’m hoping to point you to something more significant.
When I think of the decisions I’ve made during the past 20 months, one stands out as more important than the rest. I based it on some of the best ministry/life advice I’ve received, courtesy of Henry Blackaby. “If you want to be a part of what God is doing, look around and see what God is doing.” (Experiencing God)
My decision has opened my eyes to see God at work all around me, and I’ve been able to participate in His bigger plans and purposes because of it. Seeing God at work has filled me with tremendous joy when I could have been angry or frustrated because I was looking at something other than what He was doing. What you’re looking for determines your destination.
I’m convinced that while the rest of the world is worrying about COVID, God is working out a plan beyond anything that we can ask, think or imagine. Don’t miss His plan because you’re focused on something else!
Christmas gives us a window to recalibrate our lives because the season points us to seek the newborn King born the King of Kings. Encountering Him afresh aligns our heart with His and leads us toward His plans and purposes.
Come and behold Him, Born the King of Angels!
— Tim Schindel