When God’s Kingdom Comes In a Manger

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The world was looking for a liberating, conquering king.  He came as a helpless infant born to a teenage mom delivered in a barn and placed in a feed trough.  Is it any wonder with that kind of beginning that His Kingdom looks so very different than we often think it should?

I love nativity scenes. They remind me of so many beautiful aspects of His coming. To seek Him in unexpected places, in the muck and mire of ordinary, messy life.  How His Kingdom is upside down and inside out where low is high and the King of Kings bent down to take the lowest place as servant of all.

I really, REALLY love nativity scenes that look like they might take place in the middle east. Hint: baby Jesus was probably not a blonde. Another thing strikes me almost every year about this time: How often we make God over in our image and try to measure His Kingdom according to our standards.

Beloved, even if born from great intentions, that just doesn’t work.

It is so easy to make celebrity a measuring stick of God’s favor and turn platform size into a barometer of our success. When nothing could be farther from the truth. Jesus is, in the words of a dear friend, counterintuitive. {You’d be really blessed reading her recent post about God’s unexpected Kingdom on her blog marydemuth.com.}

We can get so frantic about being “successful” we just might succeed at the wrong things. Since I’ve been back in the West, the recent rise of certain reality series, like the franchise “Preachers of ___”, utterly befuddles and breaks my heart. I saddens me deeply to see leaders so profoundly miss the point of God’s Kingdom, of His best gift Who came wrapped in feed trough so long ago.  It’s like forgetting about the manger and once more seeking a human king to follow. If we seek a human king we will get a human kingdom.

Beloved, our bank account is not the measure of God’s love for us or His faithfulness or His seal of approval.  Our life challenges are not a cosmic declaration that we have too little faith to get them fixed. {I wonder if we realize when we say our faith is not strong enough to get God to do what we want Him to, we risk falling into spiritual manipulation. Which is, ahem, also known as witchcraft. Strong statement. I know. It is one thing to stand in faith trusting Jesus for His best.  It is another when we proceed to tell Him how we think His best should be delivered.}

Rest assured, if a mustard seed can move a mountain, then the amount of faith we have or don’t have is not the issue. We simply cannot measure faith by external results.

Sometimes God rescues us out of situations, but sometimes He walks with us through them.  Please hear me. I am not saying He causes sickness or tragedy.  But when tough times come because we live in a tough, fallen world longing for redemption, we have a choice. We can seek first His Kingdom and trust we will find His treasure hidden in stable mangers or we can get mad because there is no room in the inn. 

There are ways God wants to meet with us in our brokenness, in our challenges, in our struggles that we would totally miss out on if we were not facing the situations before us.  Again I’m not saying He created them or sent them, but I am saying He has a plan to overwhelmingly redeem them.  Jesus, what do You want to be for me here that You could not be for me any other place?  When we find His answer, we too will find ourselves kneeling in Bethlehem with all the other seekers of His Kingdom worshiping the King of Kings Who loves to be found in the places we least expect.

And the womb of our hearts will stretch to prepare Him even greater room. Selah.