Our website use cookies to improve and personalize your experience and to display advertisements(if any). Our website may also include cookies from third parties like Google Adsense, Google Analytics, Youtube. By using the website, you consent to the use of cookies. We’ve updated our Privacy Policy. Please click on the button to check our Privacy Policy.

888.524.2426 |  mark@churchcmo.com

3 Groups Jesus Impacted First

As we propel ourselves into the new year, setting goals and making plans, let’s take one more look at Jesus’ birth story before we pack it away until next December! One of the objectives in many church strategies at the beginning of every year is to reach more people and offer them Jesus. But who are they and what do they need? A good starting place is to look at three groups of people initially impacted by Jesus’ birth. How does your church strategy to reach new people help you build relationships with these groups?
1) The “Too Busy to Notice Crowd” (The People in Bethlehem) – It was a busy time for little Bethlehem, as people flocked to their ancestral home to be counted for the Roman census. I would guess that the merchants fully stocked their wares and innkeepers were looking for more tables and chairs to serve meals and places to setup beds for more guests. It was also probably a time where families reunited with their distant relatives, meeting their new cousins for the first time. I can only imagine how hectic and crowded Bethlehem became during this time. So, it is very easy to see how a young peasant family was able to enter the city unaware, even though Mary was obviously about to give birth.
Recently our country experienced a total eclipse of the sun, and my little hometown in East Tennessee was in the “path of totality.” Thousands of people from around the world flocked to this tiny town to have the max experience of the eclipse, for a total of 2 minutes and 38 seconds. The scene that day reminds me of what Bethlehem probably looked like the day Jesus was born. People were busy trying to get the best viewing location and others were busy selling their wares to benefit financially from this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And then the sky went dark, and there was a collective gasp and then silence. And then 158 seconds later, the sun reappeared and the party resumed.
The eclipse followers were probably a lot like the pilgrims in Bethlehem, they were focused on the task at hand, caught up in the chaos of the moment. Little did they realize that God was at work among them that day because they were too busy in the moment to notice. Our culture breeds “busy-ness” so it doesn’t take an eclipse or a sporting event to distract us from God at work around us.
How is your church positioned to cut through the daily clutter so Jesus cn capture the attention and the hearts of our busy friends and family members?
2) The “Disenfranchised Folks” (the shepherds) – As busy and bustling as Bethlehem was that day, just a couple of miles outside the town, things were going as they did every day, year after year. Luke 2:8 tells us “That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.” We can ascertain quite a bit about this group of people from this simple sentence. First, this was easily the most festive and exciting day in Bethlehem for quite some time and yet they were not included. And obviously, they could have left as we read later on in the story, but they chose to keep a safe distance from the hubbub taking place. They chose not to not interact with the strangers filling their town, even if they were distant cousins.
We know what happens next, the angel appeared to them and told them “don’t be afraid.” The angel was telling a bunch of rough and tumble men (and probably women too) that risked their lives every day to protect their flocks that it was alright to go to town and see a special baby, the Savior. That seems weird that they had to be reassured that it is was OK for them to “go home” but stop and look around at all the people that don’t feel welcome at home! The kids struggling with addiction, women entrapped in the sex trade, and people that are living on the streets or in homeless shelters. These may be the obvious suspects, but if you pay attention closely you will find that people all around you feel unwelcomed and on the fringes of society.
Can your church be the angel to the unwelcomed in your community, reassuring them that there is a safe place where they are welcomed?
3) The “People Across the Cultural Divide” (the Magi) – One of the more curious groups in Jesus’ birth narrative is the small group of visitors from the East. We don’t know much that is concrete facts about these travelers, but I think it is safe to assume they were not Jewish and they travelled first class (i.e. – not on donkeys). It is not a stretch to imagine that they stood out from the crowd when they entered the town. Obviously, they were of a class that were welcomed by royalty, as we read that King Herod invited them into the palace to learn more of their mission.
The importance of this story relies less on the lack of details about this merry band and more on how God reaches across the cultural divides in the world to invite people to meet Jesus. And guess what, many will accept the invitation to worship at the feet of the Savior! God’s plan not only makes room for seekers from all ethnicities in the world, but when they encounter Jesus, they will return home “by another route.”
Can your church be a bridge to seekers from different nationalities and ethnicities so they can encounter the Messiah and assume a new route in their lives?
My prayer for your church in 2018 is that when we pack away the decorations and nativity scenes, we keep the story of these “others” alive in our ministries and in our hearts! Amen…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts