“For most missionaries, the Christmas season brings the cost of the life they’ve chosen into a very clear focus. In this re-post of a word of encouragement written to missionaries a few years ago, Pastor Jeff Jackson shares some of the parallels between what took place beginning at Christmas and the life of missionaries.”
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
Approximately 50 years after Jesus began His ministry, the Apostle John was inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit to write an account of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Personally, I believe that the few words that John harnessed and used in this verse may just be the most masterful and succinct expression ever written to accurately express who Jesus is, what He did, and what He reveals about God.
And because of that, I see Christmas in this verse.
WHAT MOST PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT CHRISTMAS
Christmas is the annual acknowledgement and celebration of the moment when the Word “became flesh” and began to dwell among the people that were alive at that time, including the Apostle John.
Christmas is the recognition of the fact that for the eternal Word to become flesh and “dwell among us”, an entry point from the realm of eternity into the finite, fallen realm that mankind occupies was required.
And amazingly, Christmas also declares that just like all of us, He came to that entry point as a newborn baby!
His dwelling among us began just like our dwelling in this world did–completely dependent on the love and resources of others.
Eventually, through His dwelling among them, many of those who knew and interacted with Him were convinced that through Him, they were able to behold the grace and truth of God–the actual glory of God Himself.
CHRISTMAS IS ABOUT THOSE THINGS…AND MORE
But I’d like to suggest another way of looking at what this verse says about what Jesus did–about what Christmas actually portrays.
Christmas is the true story of The Missionary God actually becoming a missionary!
Christmas is about MISSIONS!
Think about it.
WHAT HE NEEDED TO DO TO ENTER OUR WORLD
For Jesus, “the Word”, to become flesh and dwell among them, He had to:
–Willfully choose to veil the fullness and glory of who He was.
–Willfully choose to leave behind that which was experientially familiar and comfortable to Him.
–Willfully choose to begin experientially living in a specific geographic location that had never previously been His home
–Willfully choose to humble Himself for a season, and become completely dependent on the love and kindness of those that He actually came to love, preach/teach to, and serve.
MISSIONARIES MUST DO THE SAME BASIC THINGS
My missionary brethren, with Christmas just a few days away, I’d like to challenge you to view your life and ministry through a little different lens this year.
Have you ever considered that you’re part of a relatively small group of His people that have the privilege of walking a path that is incredibly similar to the one He walked?
Or, that when you willfully chose to obey the call to the field and joyfully embraced all of the challenges that obedience to the call requires, you were following in His footsteps so closely?
Whether you realize it or not, when you willfully chose to leave behind that which was familiar and comfortable and enter into an environment that required you to be a receiver and a learner prior to stepping into the role of being a giver and a teacher, you were being just like Him!
And just like Him, your “dwelling” among those He has sent you to has included interacting with, and developing authentic and meaningful relationships with them.
YOU’RE IN GOOD COMPANY
My final word of encouragement to you is this:
It was His physical presence “dwelling” among them that made it possible for them to behold the glory of God’s grace and truth in Him.
Because He “dwelt”, they were able to “behold”.
My missionary friends, it’s your physical presence “dwelling” among the ones He’s called you to that God will use to help them behold the glory of His grace and truth in Jesus THROUGH YOU!
Because you “dwell”, God is using you to make them able to “behold”.