Christ Came for the Outcasts

Christmas candle image with quote from post

This holiday season, I invite you to look at the Christmas story through, perhaps, a difference lens—not just of all God did in giving us the gift of His Son—the promise of salvation, the prophesies fulfilled, the abiding presence of God for all who would believe.

All of those eternally glorious treasures came wrapped in that baby birthed by a poor yet faithful couple so long ago, and I praise God for that. But this story, told year after year and generation after generation, is more than a promise fulfilled and eternal hope proclaimed, as miraculous and glorious as those treasures are.

It’s also something of a hug for the outcast, the one who doesn’t feel good enough. It’s an invitation for all who feel rejected and insufficient. Through this precious child, God reaches out to everyone who’s ever believed the lie that they’re not good enough. Not smart, wealthy, prestigious enough, “righteous” enough.

All those who went to church seeking a Savior but encountered dress-code enforcers and rule-followers instead, and, feeling out of place, like they didn’t belong, sat in the back pew wondering if this Messiah, this King, could possibly see you.

I’ve been there. I’ve been the woman sitting at the back of the church who felt like she didn’t belong. And that’s why I love that God chose shepherds, a group of outcasts in their day, to proclaim His Son’s birth.

Luke 2:8-14 says,

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

Can you imagine what that must’ve felt like to those shepherds? There they were, minding their sheep, when an angel of God appeared to them, and the Lord’s glory surrounded them. This was a big deal, for a few reasons.

First, according to commentaries, shepherds were considered unreliable social outcasts, who, in the Talmud, weren’t allowed to act as witnesses in courts of law. According to theologian Warren Wiersbe, their work made them ceremonially unclean and kept them from the Temple, the center of Jewish life, for weeks at a time so that they couldn’t be “made clean.” In other words, they were considered “those types of people,” those you wouldn’t invite over to dinner or want to be seen with.

And yet, by God’s design, they were the first to hear of our Savior’s birth.

Scripture also tells us God’s glory surrounded them.

Also according to Wiersbe, this was the first time God’s glory had appeared on earth in centuries. If you’re familiar with God’s interaction with the Israelites, you know what a special role His glory played in their history.

It was God’s glory, visible in a pillar of cloud, that stood between them and a pursuing army when they were fleeing Egypt. God’s glory, once again visible in that same pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night, led them, day after day, as they headed toward the land long promised them. When God gave Moses the 10 commandments, Scripture says His glory and brilliance rested on the mountain, and it looked like a consuming fire. Later, we learn God’s glory filled the Temple so completely, the priests couldn’t enter in.

God’s glory was His power and His presence, a miraculous display that left the Israelites in awe and assured them that the God of creation was with them. But then, because of their sin, God’s glory departed, and oh, the darkness that followed.

Until on that first quiet Christmas, when God once again appeared, not to kings or to priests or even devout prophets, but to dirty and unkempt shepherds who were quietly tending their sheep.

In this, God made clear that His grace, His presence, His invitation and love, is Candle and Christmas foliage image with quote from post.meant for you and me. We don’t have to clean ourselves up or make ourselves presentable to get to God. In Christ, He came to us.

This Christmas, whether surrounded by family and friends or quietly celebrating alone, may you remember that Christ reached down for you as well. May you sit in His glory this Christmas as you learn to live wholly loved.

How does it feel to know Creator God reached down to you?

If you’re struggling with grief and anxiety this holiday season, I encourage you to listen to our next Faith Over Fear podcast episode titled Finding Peace This Covid-19 Christmas. You can listen here:

Fighting Fear with God’s Promises – Ep. 77 Faith Over Fear

We’ve endured so much over the past few years, and it has left many of us feeling unsettled, somewhat disoriented, and vulnerable. Our world gives us plenty of reasons to feel afraid, but our faithful, promise-keeping God gives us much more convincing reasons to live with confidence. In this episode, Jennifer Slattery and guest Kristine Brown discuss some of God’s promises that we can hold tight to when we feel afraid. Find Kristine Brown at: https://www.kristinebrown.net https://morethanyourself.com/decisions-challenge Find Jennifer: https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com https://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte https://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/ Find Wholly Loved, at: https://www.WhollyLoved.com Join the private Faith Over Fear Group Here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671 Resources: 100 of God's Promises for Your Unraveled Heart (free for all who sign up for Kristine’s newsletter at https://www.Kristinebrown.net) Walking with Rahab: A 5-Day Challenge to Better Decision Making (free 5-Day study) Unshakable Unbreakable Joy, a 10-week Bible Study from Wholly Loved Ministries Faith Over Fear Reading Plan on YouVersion Bible App. Group Discussion Questions: 1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode? 2. What are some ways you find and remind yourself of God’s promises? 3. What are some of your favorite promises God has made throughout Scripture? 4. Why do those promises comfort and encourage you? 5. Why is it important to practice “making that mind shift” onto truth as Kristine phrased it? 6. What most encouraged you regarding Rahab’s story? 7. How do you feel knowing God’s faithfulness is not dependent on yours? 8. What is one action step God is asking you to take this week to grow in your reliance on His truth? Episode Image Credit: Getty/Ponomariova Maria
  1. Fighting Fear with God’s Promises – Ep. 77
  2. The Courage to Speak Truth – Ep. 76
  3. The Courage to Heal from Church Hurt – Ep. 75
  4. Introducing: Reframed The Power of Perspective
  5. Healing from Religious Abuse (with Philip Yancey) – Ep. 74

Posted In

2 Comments

  1. I deactivated facebook a few months ago. So I so love when I receive these email from you Jennifer. I really loved this one 💖 I hope you and your loved ones have a Very Merry Christmas. Stay blessed.

    1. Hi, Dana!

      I’m so glad you found this post encouraging! This portion of the nativity story is one of my favorites! ❤️ It reminds me of God’s tender heart for all of us! Thank you for taking the time to stop in and leave and encouraging comment! You’re a blessing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.