Today’s blog was written by Adam, one of my Community Leaders, and my spiritual son, in whom I am very proud. He’s a great, rare and one in whom there is no guile. His Advent Devotional entry (produced by our overarching mission organization) is poignant, and exhorting. It is fresh and powerful.
Appréciez [Enjoy] et Joyeaux Noël!
THE CRM CHRISTMAS DEVOTIONAL
Awaiting Our Promised Hope
Day 3: Generosity
Every year on my birthday, my mom likes to retell the story of my birth. I know it by heart now. “You were a week late…” she starts. My family all gathered at the hospital for my arrival and gave me a blanket and a teddy bear, both of which were passed down to my four siblings when they were born.
As I reflect on Jesus’ birth, I am struck by the story’s upside-down circumstances and characters. Of all the places for the Son of God to enter the world, he is born in the least of places—a poor village, in a poor nation. Rather than a hospital, he is born outside with the animals, and his first bed is a feeding trough. Of all the parents he could have had, his father is a blue-collar worker, and his mother is a teenage social outcast, pregnant before she was married.
This does not sound like the birth of the Son of God, or anyone great for that matter. This sounds like the birth of someone destined to live in poverty and die a nobody.
Yet the first recorded gifts Jesus received were luxurious. A child worth little to most of the world received gifts that spoke of his true identity and worth: the King of the Universe!
Jesus’ life story is a continuous example of the upside-down Kingdom he came to establish. Everything from his social status to his stories proclaimed a generous new way for God to relate with humans, and a new way for us to relate to each other. Two days before he was to suffer the torturous death of common criminals and rebels, Jesus spoke of the day that he would return as King of the Universe, and invite the righteous to enter his Kingdom (Matthew 25:31-46).
As I reflect on this picture of the future, I am struck by the criteria Jesus gives, and the criteria he doesn’t give. He doesn’t invite the winners of theological debates. He doesn’t mention those who don’t drink, smoke, or cuss. He invites those who gave dignity and worth to “the least of these.” The signs of this upside-down Kingdom are not status or accomplishment, good theology or good behavior, but rather the practice of sacrificial generosity.
I wonder if Jesus was remembering the wealthy men who gave gold, frankincense, and myrrh at his birth when he spoke of his return. Those men risked everything and sacrificed much to visit Jesus, and when they found him, they humbled themselves in front of everyone—worshipping God and giving generously to a nobody who was really Somebody.
Jesus reveals to us a generous God who sacrificed everything to become a man and die for a humanity that could do nothing about its sin. Jesus offers membership in his kingdom to those who are generous, and true generosity is modeled after Jesus himself, who “gave up everything and became a slave when he became like one of us” (Philippians 2:7, CEV).
- Who are “the least of these” in your neighborhood, workplace, school, or city? Take a moment to consider this person or these people with God.
- What is one thing you can do this week to live a life of sacrificial generosity toward them?
To find out more about Communitas, visit the Communitas New Orleans team page on our website. To help CRM continue to reach these complex urban environments, contribute to the “Transformation Among the Poor” fund on our Giving website.