“The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighbourhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.” John 1 [The Message]
Roughly 2000 years ago something amazing happened. Something so remarkable that it is still celebrated today. The Son of God left the splendour of heaven, all the riches and glory, and was born on earth, in a lowly manger. Jesus came off his throne, and moved ‘into the neighbourhood’. He didn’t leave his heavenly throne for earthly palaces and riches, but left it to live a humble life. His time on earth was not spent with kings and nobility: He befriended the tax collectors, the invalid, the prostitutes, the outcasts. He didn’t put on airs and graces, although he would have been perfectly justified to. He got down beside the sick, the hurting, the desperate. He didn’t withdraw away from them to spend his time with the socially acceptable. He knew who needed him, and rather than expect them to come to him, he went out and meet them where they were. And then he transformed their lives.
That is the Christmas message. That God cared enough to send His Son to live and walk among us. And He cares not just for the righteous, but the ‘unrighteous’ as well. As Christians we have been made righteous, but have we put on false airs and graces? Do we view ourselves as “better” than the sinners around us? Are we prematurely elevating ourselves to our heavenly thrones? This Christmas, do we need to rediscover the importance of stepping down from the thrones, and moving into the neighbourhood, to meet people where they are? We can’t expect them to come to us looking for God. We need to follow Jesus’ example and step down into their world and go looking for them. It won’t be easy. It will involve huge sacrifices, of pride and comfort, but it is what Jesus expects of those who call themselves His followers.
This Christmas, be prepared to move ‘into the neighbourhood’. Be ready to stand beside the broken. Be willing to live to feed the hungry. Don’t be prejudice in your views of people you don’t know. Step out of your comfort zone and reach out to people society looks down on as unworthy. And then maybe for more people it will be a happy new year.