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The Problem With Shepherds

Think about this: the most important event in human history happens and who learns about it first?


Of course. The guys on the third shift sidestepping sheep poop. Truth is: shepherds were at the bottom of the food chain. The book of Genesis tells us that the highly-cultured Egyptians considered shepherds “detestable.”

How about that for some cosmic irony?

I’m not sure anything has changed much. Don’t get me wrong, but sometimes I look around the “Big C” Church and I think, “God, is this really the best you can do?” And I’m well aware of my own history. For heaven’s sake, before pastoring, I was a drummer…and I’ve heard every drummer joke on the planet.

One of the earliest non-canonical Christian writings we have is the Epistle to Diognetes, possibly as early as 130 A.D. The author gives a powerful picture of the early Christians:

“They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. . . . They love all men and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death and restored to life. They are poor yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things and yet abound in all; they are dishonored and yet in their very dishonor are glorified. They are evil spoken of and yet are justified; they are reviled and bless; they are insulted and repay the insult with honor; they do good yet are punished as evildoers. . . . Do you not see them exposed to wild beasts, that they may be persuaded to deny the Lord, and yet not overcome? Do you not see that the more of them are punished, the greater becomes the number of the rest? This does not seem to be the work of man: this is the power of God; these are the evidences of His manifestation.”

The apostle Paul reflects this in 1 Corinthians:

Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of ‘the brightest and the best’ among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these ‘nobodies’ to expose the hollow pretensions of the ‘somebodies’? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:26-30 Message Bible)

Maybe that’s what I like best about the story of the God who slips into the world as an infant and sends His press release to sheep herders first: it’s upside down and “last-shall-be-first”-type craziness that somehow seems right to me.

So come on in, you losers. You outcasts. You thieves. You whores and pimps. You white collar criminals. You scammers. Come on in, you corporate cast-offs. You overlooked and underrated. Come on in and be seen, all you who are invisible.

Come on in, you drummers. Come and bend your knee.

Merry Christmas, friends! And may this be your brightest.

Dave Workman | Elemental Churches


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