By CCCNZ Ambassador Mark Grace
The Christmas story in Luke feels messy.
Luke leads with messy people, messy politics, and messy births.
If you wanted to know who was in the middle of the mess you’d naturally think—Rome!
Caesar Augustus has spoken and the region's peoples are on the move. The result: Joseph and Mary are on the move to Bethlehem.
Looking deeper into the mess of the first Christmas, we remember the words of Micah centuries earlier, prophesying:
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” —Micah 5:2
What looks messy up close, is profoundly meaningful from a wider perspective.
God moves the Roman Empire to tax the known world to ensure Mary and Joseph are in Bethlehem for Jesus' birth. The whole region is taxed to move two people 144 km.
Rome is not in the middle of the messiness. God is!
The first Christmas and this Christmas look messy. People are on the move. The familiar is foreign. Life seems inconvenient and inconsistent.
Can I encourage you, God is still at work in the middle of the mess.
God is still using ordinary people; ordinary people making journeys, living faithfully, acting in obedience.
As we reflect on the Christmas narrative this year, and see that what looked messy was revealed to be meaningful, let's rejoice together that God is continuing to work in the middle of the mess to bring about his purposes in Jesus.