God is Tilted Towards the Underdog!
GETTING PICKED LAST OR NOT GETTING PICKED AT ALL – At least initially, Cindy thought she got picked last or not picked at all due to her being a girl. That was until girls were selected to be team captains when teams were divided up in grade school. 4 square, kickball, capture the flag, it was always the same. It was one thing to get looked over by gross boys or stuck-up girls, but being “unseen” by your two closest friends when they got selected captains…? That stung worst of all. Someone once said, “That feeling you get in your stomach when your heart is broken, it’s like all the butterflies just died.” For Cindy, the butterflies kept dying all over and over again, every recess, every day. It got so old.
No matter how hard she coached herself up, “I can do this! Quit messing up!” It made no difference; either the hand-eye coordination was off, or the athleticism was lacking. Things got so pitiful she could quote only one mantra at least to herself: “Oh please, oh please, oh please, whatever you do, don’t pick me last,” as if the team captains could read her mind. And there was a reason her fear of getting picked last was no longer an issue. You see, starting in 2nd grade, Cindy stopped getting picked at all.
GOD’S AFFINITY FOR DOWN-AND-OUTERS – The Gospel of Luke best captures God’s affinity for down-and-outers, similar to Cindy, more than any book of the Bible–the dregs, the marginalized, the looked over, the looked down upon, and the most heartbreaking of all the people who felt unseen by society. And yet, it was this crowd who comprised Jesus’ favorite segment of humanity to linger among. It was the first time in history that the misfits got picked first, not last of all.
Luke himself must have felt at times like an outsider looking in; he was the only Gentile writer in Scripture and the only New Testament author not to see Jesus; no wonder he keyed in on fellow outsiders, including referring to the shepherds staying outside the city lines, far out in the fields. While you and I may hold mental depictions of shepherds revered and admired by their contemporaries, nothing could be further from the truth. At the time of Christ’s birth, shepherds could not bear credible testimony in court, irrespective of how heinous of an act they’d witnessed. Shepherds were banned from freely entering houses of worship. They had to avoid physical contact with all others. In essence, they were legally, spiritually, and physically cut off from society at large.
How compelling must it have been, therefore, for those lonely shepherds to be told, “Today, in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Not “born for you all” as in a collective sense, but individually. You can almost imagine hearing a shepherd muttering to himself, “Wait a minute, did I hear correctly…the long-awaited Savior was born just for me?” According to the messengers of God, the answer was a resounding “Yes! He came just for you.” That, in my estimation, is the Bible’s most touching and poignant account.
GOD IS TILTED TOWARD THE UNDERDOG – As for the Angel of the Lord’s birth announcement, there was more. Solely intent on lavishing the shepherds with grace upon grace, it was quickly followed by a heavenly host ensemble; none but shepherds comprised the audience. And last, but by no means least, who first got to peer into the cave or stable to behold God’s Son? You guessed it. The shepherds! I completely agree with Philip Yancey’s assessment: “As I read the birth stories about Jesus, I cannot help but conclude that though the world may be tilted toward the rich and powerful, God is tilted toward the underdog.”
THIS CHRISTMAS YOU ARE SEEN – Amy Dickinson observed, “There is nothing more painful than being rejected simply for being who you are.” That is true, but I would also add, “There is nothing more beautiful than being accepted simply for being who you are.” In a world that is all too busy and often overlooks the unseen, Jesus’ affection for the misfits, the marginalized, and the broken reflects a profound love that sees beauty where others may see flaws. There’s hope for everyone this Christmas, especially for those who feel unseen.