As the Christmas season has obviously begun it's countdown to the 25th December people worldwide begin a celebration that reflects a blending of ideas, icons and themes that are as diverse as the cultures that have embraced the mass of Christ's birth. For me personally it is an opportunity to reflect on central themes, not of a religious celebration, or even just of the birth of a world changing child, but perhaps way deeper than these ideals is a simple Truth. Expressed in a word. A word that has come to hold such meaning it defines much of what I do and say, who I am, and what I aspire to be.
Before I share this word allow me to reflect on some of the ideas I shared at the Omega writers conference a few weeks ago.
I shared about the power of words.Words unlock other worlds. This is quite prophetic for God has called you by name and has a purpose for you. What world has God unlocked for you? Words inspire us to change the world. As we discover the Truth of key words we recognise that words create foundations for our lives. What words are you allowing to define you?
In 2 PETER 1:5-8 the apostle gives us several key words to reflect on:
"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
At conference I focused on the word that brought action to all the qualities listed. "Add".
The original Greek of this word is "Epichorēgeō" which comes from a word suggesting lavish provision. Other English translations render this word as "supply" . The word "Epichorēgeō" was used in classical Greek to describe the munificence of rich citizens to fit out a war host in preparation for battle. It had a special reference to the abundant supplies provided to complete a mission. The key Peter is making clear is that we are responsible to “supply” the graces listed, out of the power of the Grace that God has given us.
As I reflect on this power in the words that come to define us, or the ones that we need to ensure we are supplying in to our faith-walk to help us enrich the world there is a key word that stands out for me. This is reflected in the narratives we have of the Christ story that is told in ever so many ways over the season. It is good to be reminded that core to the story of Christ’s birth is the
“mindset of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:6-8).
The word that holds so much meaning, that defined Jesus, and prayerfully shapes my reality is “Humility”.
Jesus was willing to be humble enough to live, identify with, immerse, incarnate, love, associate with the broken, poor, diseased, those in need of a saviour. And that means me too.
Perhaps in the Christmas narrative this is most beautifully born out in the choice of the marginalized, disempowered peoples who were known as shepherds in the 1st Century, being the first to receive the message of the Hope of the world, from none less than a sky filled with Angels. The photo of a shepherd was taken in Nazareth in Israel 2 years ago on my Masters in Ministry with Harvest College Archaeology of the Bible Lands exploration. My desire is that I too would express Christ's heart to those who are our contemporary marginalized. I hope I can express his love, deliver his peace, and be faithful in my life journey as I seek Him, do justice and walk humbly.
As writers we should be ensuring that the words we write are helping to change the world as truth-filled expressions of God’s character. In our pursuit for great storytelling it may be tempting to bypass Truth telling for creative license. Often there is a notable tension in some of our narratives: How to remain both creatively appealing and spiritually sound.
How important is it to express Truth and God’s character?
Perhaps the best way to begin this process is to consider what “Humility” means and embrace its qualities. Perhaps the Christmas season, the year ahead, and our future would flow with a peace and joy that comes simply as we express this reality that is at once a just revelation of Jesus, and also how he would have the Kingdom that is His be received in this Earth.
Consider further the words in Philippians 2:
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset of Christ Jesus.” Be Humble.
May the Joy and revelation of the season be yours.