Imagine one Sunday your pastor mentions he would like to thank a certain individual whom God has used in a great way. Your mind immediately starts racing, trying to think who this person might be … an elder? …the missionary family? …the music leader? Instead, everybody’s head turns when he calls up a bearded homeless man, crouched in the back seat.
The religious elite of Jerusalem were hardly expecting the greatest announcement of all time, the birth of the Messiah, to come solely to a couple of bedraggled shepherds and gentile astrologists. They were the ones who had worked to keep the exactitude of the law, look pious before the world, and merit God’s favor. So why wouldn’t God reward them by heralding the Messiah’s birth at their doorstep?
Simply because God’s character, even as laid out in the Old Testament, is entirely opposite.
“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Is. 57:15).
God’s glory was greater displayed by weaving the humble outcasts of society—like shepherds, prostitutes, and fishermen—into his story. The question is, do I see myself as one of those underserving outcasts in desperate need of His mercy? Or do I feel I merit His special attention for my religious identity? Only in embracing the latter will I have the privilege of drawing close to Him.