Written by Christie Love, Founder of LeadHer
A dark and dingy stable would not be the world’s ideal setting to showcase the beauty of the long awaited birth of the Messiah.
Here, a young woman who had never known the intimate touch of a man readied herself to fulfill the prophet’s proclamation of a virgin birth. Fear threatened her mind as she looked around her marginalized surroundings yet the voice of an angel echoed in her memory, ““Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God!”
The cold night air was no doubt heavy with the stale scents of various animals. Yet it was here, in must and mildew that an small infant drew its first breath. A breath that inhaled the shadows of a world he came to save and exhaled hope of his arrival into the world.
Christmas reminds us that God’s greatest blessings often come in the shadows not the spotlight.
A reminder that The Church is in great need of.
Our modern church culture has become focused on things that are bigger, faster, better, and more popular. We pursue big attendance numbers. We try to attract large groups of followers on social media. We look for ways to tell the same stories better – with brighter lights and louder sound in hopes of getting a bigger response than someone else. Church services are morphing into performances and pulpits evolving into platforms. Leaders, both formal and informal, are seeking the spotlights of the world to discuss and debate their passions.
Jesus was born in the shadows of a stable.
Jesus was raised in the shadows of Jewish culture in the small, rural town of Nazareth.
Jesus ate dinner in the shadows with tax collectors and outcasts.
Jesus ministered to people that lived daily in the shadows of society.
Jesus lived more time on earth being unknown rather than known.
Jesus breathed deeply and frequently of the shadows during his time on earth.
He was not a spotlight seeker.
Jesus didn’t take attendance or focus on numbers.
He poured into those the Father brought across his path – whether it was 1 or 10,000.
Jesus was thrust out of the shadows when he was nailed to an old rugged cross while willingly taking on the sin and shame of mankind. He laid down his life for us in a brief earthly spotlight – that drew the attention from accusers who beat him, mocked him, and jeered at him. However, when it appeared his mission to come into the world in order to save it looked to have failed the world lost interest and again thrust him into the shadows of a borrowed grave.
However, death would not defeat him. Three days later, Jesus rose from the grave- eternally shining a spotlight on HIS victory over death and HIS offer of eternal salvation for all who believe in who he is and what he did for us.
Jesus earned the spotlight of eternity through his sacrifice and resurrection.
We seek the spotlight through our efforts and activities.
We spend much of our lives looking for ways to get attention from the world and make a name for ourselves.
We do good and then document it in Instagram pictures and Facebook posts so that others can see our good actions and “like” them.
We Periscope our down moments and Tweet our every thought.
We crave the shine of the spotlight and desire the approval of others.
We mean well.
However, our good intentions often get lost in the glare of the spotlight we shine on our good deeds. Many churches and leaders, without realizing it have succumbed to our culture’s desire to seek the spotlight. We are starting to look more “of the world” then not.
In all of our efforts to shine…we have pushed Jesus again into the shadows.
However, Jesus, our risen Lord deserves the spotlight of our affection and worship.
Who He is, deserves to be the dominant personality of our church.
His truth and teaching deserves more weight than our opinions and wisdom.
This Christmas as we celebrate a savior who emerged from the shadows- let’s be willing to make Him the focus and give him the spotlight.
Not just for a season – or a dedicated day – but for a lifetime.
May we seek to stop looking for ways to promote our names and start spending our time and investing our influence on lifting high the name of Jesus for all to see and sharing his truth for all to hear. Let us repent of our efforts to shine and make seeking the shadows our lifestyle.
My prayer for myself and each of you this Christmas is that we begin to willingly inhale deeply of the shadows each day of our earthly lives so that the eternal spotlight of Christ the King may shine in our words, our actions, and our relationships.