Our culture is enamored with the wealthy and the powerful. Athletes, actors, politicians, and successful CEOs––these people just seem to matter more. Even as Christians, we are drawn to worldly standards of power and influence.
The story of Christ’s birth reminds us that God turns the world’s standards and expectations upside-down. He keeps His promises, but He often does it in a surprising way. Thus when Mary heard she would give birth to Christ, she cried out,
My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever. (Luke 1:46–55)
Instead of the proud, it was the humble who were receiving God’s favor; instead of the rich, the hungry were being filled. Those who were insignificant in the world’s eyes would receive God’s mercy and steadfast love. This is still God’s pattern today:
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1 Corinthians 1:26–29)
God’s chief aim is to put his own glory on display, and one of the ways He does this is by undermining the world’s wisdom. The Messiah comes through an unknown virgin from Nazareth. Eternal riches are promised to those who admit they are spiritually bankrupt. The King of the universe saves His people by dying on a cross.
This excerpt is adapted from Radical’s new Daily Reading Guide for Advent titled “To Us A Son Is Given.” You can download it for free here.
David Burnette serves as the editor/writer for Radical. He lives with his wife and three kids in Birmingham, Alabama, where he serves as an elder at Philadelphia Baptist Church.