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By Pastor Charles Empey
For the Record 

Don't You Love The Shepherds

 

Last updated 12/21/2021 at 12:02pm



Luke 2:8 "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night."

Who are your favorite characters in the account of the birth of Jesus? The shepherds or the three Wise Men, referred to often as Kings? I'm going to say hands down most of us chose the shepherds. Why is that? For me, it is because they represented a part of the more common of society, even the poorer part of society. Jesus said that it is very difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. What He meant was that their preoccupation with their wealth, sustaining it and making more distracts them from the spiritual activities of God all around them. So, their priorities are focused upon the security of their substance, not their souls. They even at times have a fear that if they got too caught up in Christianity that they might be called upon to share their substance with the Lord and His church. By the way, I'm not necessarily talking about millionaires or billionaires. If you have monetary gain, giving you liberty to own a really nice house, wardrobe, recreation toys, nice cars, or trucks, etc. etc., clearly that is enough distraction from what is important in Christ. Churches are emptying out today not because millionaires have quit going to church, but people who are just as I have described have left serving the church of Jesus Christ to indulge in their wealth. The "shepherds," the least of the society chain monetarily  are left to try to keep the ministry of Christ's churches going. They love Jesus, and His church, and the souls of men more than having a lucrative lifestyle. "Shepherds," lower occupations, are not distracted by the glitter of the world and are open to the Lord, even the appearance of His angels in the night. Vrs. 9-10 "And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." Worldly distractions are one reason people live their life and miss Christ. Their focus is on this world, not heaven and the Savior of heaven. God is operating all around us, but too many are not paying attention and wonder why they have not the contentment and peace that a good bank account and lifestyle they think should give. They are either lost without the Spirit to guide and awaken them, or they are simply distracted from the godly importance always around them.

Allow me to say that this does not mean that there are not those still faithful to God's churches who are well off, but the "well off" factor is small in number. It has always been the less in income and society who were the hardest working and most faithful in the churches. Read the Scriptures. The first church was made up of poor fishermen, converted and saved prostitutes, the lesser in society. Luke was a physician to illustrate that there was from time to time an upper crust in the church. Remember Ananias and Sapphire in Acts chapter 5? They had a lot of land and possessions and had seen others surrendering their gains to the church and wanted to appear to have done the same. They just couldn't give it up for the Lord, because they came to the church and lied to Peter as to how much they had really given. The "shepherds" of the the Lord's church didn't have so much to be attached. They were used to sacrifice and living meagerly, and if need be, for the cause of Christ, His church. 

Verse 11 says, "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." Isn't it interesting that it says, ""For unto you is born this day…"? Do you see that the Angel was telling them that Jesus "is born unto you?" "Unto you…" Jesus is a personal Savior, not a "world" Savior. Salvation is a very personal experience between Christ and the one who comes to Him to be their Savior. The shepherds were attentive to that announcement. Wow! My Savior. My Messiah. The went unto Jesus to meet Him and to receive Him. They walked away from their living, their watching over their flocks, leaving their jobs at risk to meet and receive their Savior. Suddenly Jesus was more important than job security and house security. What has happened to that today and over the past few decades? We have fewer "shepherds" and more materially secure people. Abundance has taken priority over going to Jesus and receiving Him. Christmas is more about gifts and all the flair than about Christ Jesus and His church. The Jesus, who they are willing to say is the reason for the season, and the church is deserted and the Christmas tree is attended with expensive decor and gifts  in such number that overwhelm the tree. Christianity has been traded for a season of decorated trees and loads of gifts. Children are missing God and His Son, therefore heaven, but it is seen to that they have the gifts of their present dreams.

The shepherds came from meeting and receiving their Savior rejoicing and telling everyone about Him. That was their priority. They had nothing of gift or riches to give their Savior, but they had His salvation. To them that was the most valuable thing and possession above all this world is willing to offer in hard earned riches. Nothing else counted but their Savior and eventually His church. They understood what was eternally valuable, while knowing that all else will go away someday leaving the only thing they have ever and will ever ultimately need, the Savior, Jesus.

Then for a quick final note…2 years later the three wise men, very wealthy men and men of power and authority came looking for the new born Savior and King. They were not so distracted by their worldly wealth and power…their worldly comforts. They were willing to walk away from it, bringing evidence of their riches by their expensive gifts given to Him. How does this come along side what I have already written? It tells us that God is showing us in His Word, among other things, that the giving of His Son Jesus was sufficient to reach the poorest to the richest, if they are truly awakened to such need of the Savior. Humbling the upper crust of society is harder than humbling those already humbled in their way of life. Yet, we see in the account of the three Wise Men that Jesus came to save sinners out of every level of society, if they will humble themselves to hear and see Him right now available to save their souls and sustain them spiritually and materially. There is nothing wrong with riches in and of themselves, but if it has drawn you away from Christ and His church, and has only boiled down to a once a year holiday called Christmas and a tree and gifts…well, what more can I say? Except, in this Christmas season will you just stop and think about this message?

Charles Empey is the Pastor of Cove Baptist Church, Orange, TX.

 

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