Welcome to these Christmas blog posts for 2020! I hope you will enjoy - and share! Off we go...
It's not just Christmas-time. It's Final Exam time too. Even if class is virtual, exams are coming up and students everywhere are reading as fast as possible in order to spit it back out.
Free Tip: Every speed reader knows you skip the stuff in parentheses.
If the assigned author goes parenthetical (like this) – SKIP IT! It is optional, not required, info.
But… please don’t skip the parentheses in Mark 2:15:
Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.) - New Living Translation
You just read the most important parenthetical statement of all time.
It is essential, not optional, to embrace what’s inside these parentheses: The God of the universe loves and attracts the worst kind of people the world has to offer. Like a magnet.
Traitors. Thieves. Prostitutes. Rule breakers. Wanderers. All of them are (Parentheses People).
And (Parentheses People) loved Jesus. And Jesus loved them. Today’s Christians often don’t love and attract “sinners,” but Christ did.
From the Very Beginning
Attracting and loving “disreputable” people wasn’t an acquired taste for Jesus. He started young. In fact, on the very day Jesus was born, (Parentheses People) started flocking to Him.
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, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!
- Luke 2:8-11 (NLT)
God put shepherds first in line? But, wait, you say, “My kid was a shepherd in the Christmas pageant, and it was so cute.” I’m sure that’s true. But shepherds weren’t cute in Jesus’s day. Shepherds were losers. Throwaways. Notorious. (Parentheses People) for sure. They had a reputation for stealing and often abandoned the owner's sheep at the first sign of trouble. No one liked or trusted them.
Lowlifes! And shepherds were the first people to praise God on the day Jesus was born.
No one cared about them. No one… but One. (Parentheses People) found a friend in Jesus.
(INSERT YOUR NAME)
The very fact we label some people as (Parentheses People) – generally other people – suggests we don’t understand Christmas. We are ALL (Parentheses People). Wanderers. Prone to harm. Addicted. Selfish. Arrogant. Prideful. And yet “Sinner” is a word we apply to others, not ourselves.
Our pride is easy to spot. Jesus ate with (Parentheses People) – He couldn’t help Himself. But “Church People” rarely follow His example. Despite what we say, our social docket reveals our tacit judgmentalism.
The way of Jesus means acknowledging WE are (Parentheses People). Christmas’s power will escape us until we see and embrace our own name between the parentheses. Living in the parentheses with desperate dependence on God’s grace means you’ve been found. Anyone who, even subconsciously, stakes claim to the favorable side of humanity’s ethical curve, are, ironically, lost. (Luke 15, Luke 18:11-, Matthew 9:12, Luke 5:32 and I could go on).
So to start this Christmas season… Take out a piece of paper and a pen. Write out two parentheses:
And write your name inside. And stare at it. And give thanks to God. Because you are a (Parentheses Person). Just like me. We just need to recognize it. And from the moment Jesus was born, he loved us (no matter what).
Thanks for reading today! Would you take a moment to comment or share with others?