In John 20:21 Jesus told His disciples: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” What all did Jesus mean by that statement? Well, for starters, we would do well to ask ourselves what lessons we might learn from the Savior’s foray into the world as a baby.
1) Jesus crossed some major cultural barriers to identify with us. I have a friend that often states that the biggest cultural barrier that was ever crossed was when Christ left the riches, splendor, and perfection of heaven and came to this earth to live among poor and wicked people.
Paul reminds his readers in II Corinthians 8:9: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” Am I willing to leave the richness of home and friends to identify closely with the physically and spiritually poor today?
A friend of mine was asked if he ever struggles with believing that God could come to earth as a human being. He replied that he doesn’t struggle believing that God could come to earth but that He would come to earth.
2) Jesus came as a helpless baby, entrusting Himself to the Father’s care. There were many dangers Jesus faced as a baby. Herod, of course, was intent on killing everyone that might possibly be a threat to his throne. Even Joseph and Mary were not perfect parents. They could have spoiled Jesus or even been abusive. Would it not have been much better to send Jesus as a conquering King at the head of a great army in order to bypass all the dangers of childhood? Instead, He came as a helpless baby.
Many Americans, whether they mean to or not, often enter cross-cultural situations with a savior complex. One Central American believer said that working with American short-term workers was comparable to a mouse dancing with elephants. We naturally don’t like to feel out of control. But Jesus entrusted Himself to the Father and into the care of other people. Let’s be willing to enter those out-of-control situations where we must entrust ourselves to the Father’s care and to others around us.
3) Jesus came for the long haul. He didn’t come at the age of 30 to do His thing and then leave three years later. He came as a baby and lived on earth 30 years before He began His ministry. The majority of Jesus’ life is not even recorded in Scripture. Doesn’t that seem like a waste of time? We live in a Western society that thrives on instantaneous results. We don’t like to “waste” time. However, are we willing to enter new situations with the mindset that we are in it for the long-haul?
Relationships take time; cross-cultural relationships take even more time. When we enter new situations with a task-oriented mindset we risk losing out on the much more valuable relationships that could be made along the way. We might also lose out on lessons God wants to teach us along the way.
So, this Christmas season let’s give thanks to God for taking the time and effort to so closely identify with us by coming to earth as a baby. May it inspire us to be His hands and feet in the hard places of this world.