Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Anticipation of Greatness

Leading up to when Christ came into the world, there was 400 years of silence. This was 400 years of people living apart from God's words and trying to get by following the law on their own. Because they are human, this led to a lot of sin and the creation of empires on their own strength.

During this time, the Jewish people were hoping for the coming of the Messiah. They were waiting for the promised one to come and redeem all things.

Finally, the time had come! Galatians 4:4-5 says, "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons".

Picture for a minute what the people were probably thinking. I imagine they were looking for a perfect leader. One who was strong, well-respected and dependable. I think they were longing for someone to come and tell them how they should act and which way they should walk in. They were picturing greatness.

Instead, the fullness of God came in the form of a tiny baby.

This probably seemed too ordinary to be the greatness of God. I wonder what Mary was thinking when she was dealing with the pains and discomfort of pregnancy. The Bible doesn't tell us that she had a pain-free pregnancy. I imagine if she had, this would have been mentioned in Scripture because it, of itself, would be a miracle. When she was dealing with morning sickness and had trouble sleeping, did she think, "Yes, this seems like a great way to bring the coming Messiah into the world!" I imagine she had to work against doubt and had to simply trust what the angel Gabriel had told her- that "the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God." She simply had to trust that the Son of God would be great because of the greatness of the Holy Spirit and of God. I imagine when she was giving birth she also had to trust that this baby truly was anointed. Again, the Bible doesn't tell us this birth was pain-free. If it were, that again would be a miracle. Birth is painful, loud and messy. But Mary was trusting in the words that were spoken to her. She was anticipating the greatness of what this baby would become and represent.

To the people, Jesus remained ordinary. He was doing extraordinary things, like healing the deaf, blind and lame and raising the dead. Even still, this was not the great Messiah people had pictured. Some ended up having Him killed because of this disappointment and jealousy of what He was doing and who He was claiming to be.

You see, the problem with anticipating greatness is that we create what the greatness will look like in our minds. When it doesn't turn out that way, we are left confused and disappointed.

The reality is, Jesus was the greatness of God in human form. He was everything He was predicted to be, but people hadn't pictured someone who looked so... ordinary. Just as promised, He was the sacrifice for our sins. The replacement for burning animals as sacrifices on the alter and He was the fulfillment of the Law. That is greatness.

Christ came to set us free. He came, as an ordinary man in an ordinary manner (sent as a baby) to do extraordinary things. His death and resurrection marked the beginning of everything that had been hoped for and predicted. The people were now no longer under the law, but redeemed through the miracle of Christ. Their sins were forgiven and they had the miracle of the power of the Holy Spirit available to them. This is greatness fulfilled.

When we envision how God is going to come through for us, we are often left disappointed. We picture the King without picturing the baby who grows up to be King. We want things to be fast, easy and come in a beautiful package with a pretty red bow. God doesn't work in predictable ways and things rarely turn out the way we envision in our heads. However, His greatness is way better than we could ever envision or dream up. The fulfillment of His promises are always good, even when they come in a different form than we anticipated.

Even now, when I pray for Mundri, the only thing I mind can call "great" in regards to peace in Mundri is God wiping out the leaders, or changing their hearts overnight and somehow creating instant peace. Peace that immediately allows everyone to return to their homes. Peace that allows the people to go back to normal life, trusting that they are safe and being cared for. I imagine great provision that leaves no child or person without food and that allows for them to easily re-build their homes and towns. Anything less than this doesn't seem great to me right now. However, I have to trust that God has a plan, just as He did with the coming of the Messiah. His plan might seem ordinary at first, but the result will be greater than I could have imagined because that is how He works. So, when I anticipate greatness for the people of Mundi, I will put my trust in the one who sent a baby into this world to redeem us all, knowing this was the fullness of God and as great as it gets.