A lot of missionaries I know have a special affinity for the Christmas story, one that goes above and beyond a love for the holiday season, or even the story that is told about baby Jesus born in a manger. I love the Christmas story because in many ways I identify with it and see it as a model for my own lives. You see as a missionary Jesus is my model, because he was the first missionary and there is so much I can learn about how I should live based on the Christmas story.
For example, Out of obedience to His father and a desire to see His kingdom come, he left his heavenly throne and came to a sin filled hateful and violent place to show us the way. Though Jesus loved us even when we were sinners, the first missionary did not come to earth because of us. He came out of love for his Father, and a desire to see His name made famous among the nations. Jesus came because his love for his father so overshadowed everything else that he was willing to do anything that was asked of him. In our self-centered minds we think Jesus came because of me, and though there may be some grain of truth in that, the overwhelming body of evidence (the New Testament) proves that Jesus’ reason for coming to us was God-centered not man-centered. This should also be so for modern missionaries.
Another thing that I love about the Christmas story is how Jesus came. He came to us as a child, an infant who could not speak, care for himself or even feed himself. He had to rely on others for some time before he was able to care completely for himself. I know this feeling very well, It is how most missionaries feel when we first get to the field. We don’t speak the language, we don’t know the cultural cues, we have no idea what we are eating, etc. But I tend to think that as in everything Jesus did there was a reason for his coming as a child, and though the temptation of many missionaries is to go to their new home as a teacher or expert, the example we see in Jesus is that the son of God came to us helpless and he had to be a learner in his new culture.
Finally, I love where Jesus was born. A stable! placed in a manger! Seriously?! I think because we have heard this story so many time we lose how incredible this was. The Son of God was born in a barn, and laid in a feeding trough. Even in his birth he showed us the way to go. He was born in the humblest of places, so that he could reach the humblest of people. The first people to hear of the Messiahs arrival were some lowly shepherds on a hillside nearby. The wise men heard but they were further down the list. The first missionary’s people group, if you will, were the downtrodden and those who had already determined that they needed help! This was not determined by their race (Jew or Gentile) Jesus himself said his message was for both. It was not the rich or poor, for he sought after both Levi and the common street beggar. It wasn’t even about religious affiliation, because he welcomed the non-religious, like the woman at the well, as well as the devout, like Nicodemous. Jesus’ people group were those who sought abundant life wherever he may find them. And people were drawn to him because of the things he taught, the authority he had when teaching and the way he lived. My prayer is that I would follow His lead, that I would be like Jesus and that because of that His kingdom would come on earth as it is in Heaven.