December 16 – The Satisfied and the Restless

by Matthew Morgan

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. — John 1:9-12

Children of God: Receiving Our Rightful Inheritance – In our final week leading up to Christmas, we are celebrating what it means to have “the right to be called children of God.” 

Nativity – John Giuliani

Read Matthew 2:1-8

No one can celebrate
a genuine Christmas
without being truly poor.
The self-sufficient, the proud,
those who, because they have
everything, look down on others,
those who have no need
even of God, for them there
will be no Christmas.
Only the poor, the hungry,
those who need someone
to come on their behalf,
will have that someone.
That someone is God.
Emmanuel. God-with-us.
Without poverty of spirit
there can be no abundance of God.

-Oscar Romero

Jesus is the Son of God. The true King of the world. He is Lord. But you wouldn’t know it if you paid close attention to who surrounded him – that is until your heart has been captured by the upside-down, counter-cultural imagination of Christ. We have seen through the birth narrative the absence of those whom conventional wisdom would place at the birth of a new King. Herod and the religious leaders stay in Jerusalem while pagan searchers, lowly shepherds, and Jesus’ own poor desperate parents are present to welcome him to the world. As it was at his birth, so it was in his life. At any given time you might find Jesus alongside an adulterous woman and facing down Jewish leaders. You might catch him talking to a Samaritan woman or touching lepers. You could catch a glimpse of him eating with tax collectors or receiving a gift from a prostitute. His closest friends are lowly fisherman. This is not the entourage first century Jewish leaders would expect or desire for the Messiah. In fact, those same Jewish leaders kept a safe distance from Jesus. They asked a few questions, set some traps, got angry, and ultimately plotted to murder Jesus. But very few of those in places of influence truly sought to know Him.

This unexpected oddity isn’t isolated to the first century. All over the world and all throughout history, the restless, disturbed, poor in spirt, and desperate find solace and acceptance in Jesus. And the rich, powerful, put-together, and comfortable only cautiously and reluctantly engage this radical teacher. And why would it be any different? Those of us who are rich already have all we need; any message that seeks to turn things upside down challenges our standard of living, and we just can’t have that.

If you have all you need and your life is one of comfort and affluence, you are at risk of growing complacent and spiritually lethargic. If you let that go for too long, you might arrive at a place that feels so safe and secure that you refuse to give it up, even for Jesus. If you are not desperate to know God, invite risk into your life. Invite sacrifice, true sacrifice. Do something radical. In the words of Francis Chan, “live in such a way that if God doesn’t show up, you will be in trouble.” Because it’s there, in your weakness, in your desperation, that you will find Jesus. But if you are desperate, hurting, in want, or weary, God is close. The comfort you seek is close. Philip Yancey says that, “human beings do not readily admit desperation. When they do, the Kingdom of Heaven draws near.”

What could you do to invite and welcome desperation in your life? Jesus is worth any price you could pay.

What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? (Mark 8:36)

Little Drummer Boy – King and Country

3 thoughts on “December 16 – The Satisfied and the Restless

  1. One time in a Bible study I was attending, someone read these verses from John 1 from a different version that said, “he gave the POWER to become children of God.” And that person really wanted to know what power it is that we receive as children of God. Power to perform miracles? Power to speak in tongues? Power to raise the dead? Power to have religious authority over others? Reading this meditation today reminds me how often we, like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, tend to misunderstand over and over the upside-down Kingdom of God. Even though we know that Jesus did not come to free Israel from Roman authority and set up a throne in Jerusalem, we somehow expect that following him today DOES entail gaining or holding on to earthly power and rights. It is much harder to desire and welcome desperation as part and parcel with following Jesus…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for the thoughtful post, Matthew. Jesus provides love and hope for those who are already in desperate circumstances. But I think we need to be clear about what the word “desperation” means, which is “hopelessness” and not “poverty” or “suffering”. As Christians, we are freed from despair and filled with hope in the great promise. To seek or welcome desperation in our lives would be to reject this hope. I don’t think that’s what you meant.

    “God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.” Hebrews 6:18-20

    Liked by 3 people

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