Visit Don Schanzenbach at The American Hope Project: http://missiontorestoreamerica.com/blog/
It is December 10th today. The season advances upon us. The final yard mowing is some weeks past and the greenhouse must be closed tight at night. In the now later morning light we can view the tops of the mountains through the ever present mist. During summer months foliage covers everything but in December the sharp profiles of the ridges scrawl their rocky signatures across the winter clouds.
Thanksgiving is past (although there is no rule against giving thanks in December as well). Which reminds me – Have you noticed how all the Thanksgiving talkers and ads, even the full Thanksgiving newsprint articles, no longer refer to God? They instead discuss being thankful to family, the government or just generic thankful (I think they really mean grateful) to no one in particular. This emptiness of soul is a barometer that gives a measure of our national impiety.
Many of us wonder what it will take to bring reformation and revival to our nation. The whole thing seems so overwhelming. We see corruption and failed social experiments filling society. With every week comes disturbing news of the latest antics of the central authorities. But, in the midst of this I have been realizing that our spiritual forefathers were often immersed in dying cultures as well. I am thinking particularly about the 1st century saints who while surrounded by wicked Roman lawlessness and cruelty and barbarian immorality, were conquerors with the peaceful gospel of Jesus.
The leaders trained by Christ to build the 1st century church were fishermen and a tax collector. These were not men of high position. They were not rocked in gilded cradles nor schooled to be rulers. Rather they were men who walked away from their whole existence when they stepped from their nets and unto the way of Christ. They were daily people who labored for bread like everybody else. It was these plain men who God used to turn the world upside down. They were the yeast that filled the whole loaf of Roman society. The new culture of Christ slowly became the culture of the western world and the old Romanism declined away like a fire that reduces to coals and finally to ash.
Another example of ordinary men who transformed their world were the shepherds. From the earliest centuries the shepherd seems to be a metaphor for the ordinary man, the man who would disappear into sub-history never to be exhumed. Yet, over and again the hand of God lifts these obscure individuals to be forever examples and recipients of extreme grace. Moses, tho reared in the royal palace had fled to the wilderness. He became a shepherd in a remote wasteland until he was summoned through the burning bush to a life of public ministry. David was a shepherd that the Lord made into the shepherd ofIsrael. Amos was a fig picker and a herdsman as the text explains. But, God called him from that work and made him a prophet inIsrael. And, the shepherds atBethlehem? How were they to have known they would be the recipients of the angelic announcement?
Now, the Egyptians despised shepherds. Scripture tells us that ‘every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians’. This is the mind of the haughty culture of man. Wealth and power despise humble things. Nothing has changed from their era to ours. The preening and self assurance of godless power-brokers deceives them concerning their own importance. No rising tide of earthly disasters convinces them of their folly even if it be walls of sea water ten stories high. They charge right in until God causes their chariot wheels to swerve. We live in a time when the chariot wheels of the haughty are again beginning to swerve. Shepherds, I think, are being summoned once more to speak before Pharaoh. These are days for courage and holy action. I am thinking that if God can use a fig picker, if he can call a shepherd to be king, then surely He can summon any of us to accomplish the work of His kingdom. We are like them. We are the ordinary men that the Lord will make extraordinary. I am praying that God will remember many shepherds and call them from their fields.
Blessings and peace to every one,
And Merry Christmas
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