20: Lowly

So the last shall be first, and the first last.

Throughout Scripture there is a common theme: humility. God uses the humble, the weak, the least likely candidates to accomplish his will and he shames the powerful and prideful. The birth story of Christ is one of the most powerful examples of God’s turning the world upside-down, shaming kings and strengthening the weak. Each of the people he highlights in the story of Jesus’ birth are the most devalued and least likely: a husband and wife well beyond child-bearing years who would give birth to John–the voice in the wilderness who would prepare the way for the coming Christ; a young peasant couple who would birth the King of kings himself; and Shepherds the lowliest profession and essentially despised group of people would be those that the Christ’s birth would be announced too. Hardly what you would imagine for the coming of a king, let alone the God of the universe. God not only values the weak and humble, he uses them first, he honors them and strengthens them. This is not a popular idea, our world values power, strength and intelligence; we may pretend to root for the underdog, but the human worldview has always been shaped by pride, Friedrich Nietzsche summed it up:

“What is good? All that heightens the feeling of power in man, the will to power, power itself. What is bad? All that is born of weakness. What is happiness? The feeling that power is growing, that resistance is overcome.”

Nietzsche’s philosophy wasn’t really a new idea at all, the idea of power was introduced in the garden at the very beginning of time by Satan:

“You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”–Genesis 3:4-5

The temptation was to be like God, the temptation was power, and the sin of taking that power was pride. Every sin is rooted in pride, as we choose to do what we think will please us, over what God has commanded.
So, the idea that God used the most humble circumstance to break into our world, an infant laid in a feeding trough, and announced to simple shepherds, and ultimately dying at the hands of those whom he created, well that simply turns the idea of power on its head. We are not powerful, we are not God, and God used humility to show us that. His sacrifice to save us defeated our pride with humility.

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