By Paul Leavens
What an incredible experience those shepherds had-they had just been visited by angels! But notice what they did after the angels had gone, because the real test of the Christian life is not how well we handle the occasional spiritual highs, but how well we function during ordinary times.
They personally examined the evidence. They didn’t say to one another, “Let’s send someone to see if there really is a baby in a manger.” Instead, “The shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened.”
If our faith is going to withstand the storms and attacks of the next decade, it must be built on a solid, thought-out foundation. It must be a personal, knowledgeable faith. Those who are Christians simply because of parental influence or an emotional experience probably will not survive the increasing skepticism of our day.
After the shepherds verified the angel’s claim, they excitedly shared their discovery.
Christianity is more than a celebration it’s a proclamation. Some Christians blame their weak evangelistic efforts on lack of knowledge (“I don’t speak up because I don’t know enough about the Bible”). But the shepherds evangelized even though they had limited information. They didn’t know about the coming crucifixion and resurrection. They just told what they had discovered for themselves. Besides, we talk about politics, current events, restaurants, or child rearing even though we’re not authorities on those subjects.
Often the best evangelists are new Christians. They may not know a lot about the Bible, but they are like the man in John 9 whom Jesus had healed of blindness. He admitted he didn’t know much about Jesus. “One thing I do know,” he said. “I was blind but now I see!”
Evangelism is the normal result of a genuine encounter with Jesus. The shepherds dutifully returned to their jobs. They had a marvelous experience. But now it was over, and they had to go back to mundane tasks in the field. But their lives were never really the same, because they went back to work “glorifying and praising God for all things they had seen and heard” (Luke 2:20).
How do you function when the angels or the high times have gone? When the thrill of your conversion is behind you, do you keep attending worship, singing, smiling, evangelizing? When the words of encouragement have faded from your marriage, do you keep being thoughtful and kind?
How do you go back to tending sheep when you’ve been visited by angels and seen the baby Jesus? You do so glorifying and praising God for all that which you have seen and heard.
Let’s Think About It:
- Imagine you were one of the shepherds at Bethlehem. What would have been most exciting for you: the angels finding the baby Jesus, or some other part of the account? Why?
- How long do you think the shepherds would have continued glorifying and praising God after the birth? One year? Five years? Thirty years? How might that attitude of praise have changed the way they worked?
How would an attitude of continuing praise after a big event today change the way you live or work?
Dr. Paul Leavens is minister of the Christian Church in Lindsay, 120 N. Frazier Ave. To contact him, call 559-562-3743 or visit www.lindsaychristianchurch.org.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.