December 21, 2016
When a famous person visits a city, there is typically a prior announcement, followed by a noisy welcome. In contrast, when Jesus arrived in Bethlehem, hardly anyone was even aware that He came.
The song declares accurately, “How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given.” The first coming of Jesus to Planet Earth as a baby was much different from what is described in the Bible as His anticipated Second Coming. Jesus is appropriately titled “King,” but His title at His first coming is “Savior.”
I have been pondering the significance of “quietness” as part of the Story of Jesus coming into our world to be our Savior from the penalty of sin. There may be times when a loud announcement has impact, but I believe that most people come to belief in Jesus through the quiet witness of another individual. A silent message is powerful when it is genuine and God-directed.
Worship celebrations such as Sunday services can be appropriately noisy and filled with loud expressions of praise because these events are made up primarily of followers of Jesus. At some point, we responded in faith to Jesus and were declared a child of God, which makes us want to shout praise and thanksgiving.
While I have no reason to be critical of massive evangelistic events, I believe that many of the people who respond to Jesus at these events are there because they were impressed by the quiet reality of His Presence in the life of a friend or family member. Jesus taught the multitudes, but He brought people into His kingdom one by one. And when He left with a promise to return, He told us to make disciples, which is not done in masses but rather one by one over time.
I am excited to think about the shout from heaven and the observable glory of Jesus when He returns as Lord and King. But today I am focused on the importance of being a quiet but positive witness to the Story of Jesus’ first coming and the Gift of faith that God wants to give to everyone. In this hurting world, a genuine attitude of personal peace in a quietly confident human gets the attention of people who are ready to know more.
Pastor Bill Ehmann