Thursday, 25 December 2008

The greatest missionary story ever told

There are so many great missionary stories, some of these have shaped my life.  Amy Carmichael was a single woman who spent her life rescuing young girls in India from a life of temple prostitution.  And there is the story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliott.  Jim and four other missionaries were killed while trying to make contact with a remote and unreached tribe in Ecuador.  Their families later returned to live with that same tribe so that the people could hear about Jesus.

The Bible is full of missionary stories.  Abraham was the very first missionary, called by God to leave his father's household and go to some far off place.  The apostle Paul took the Gospel to half of the known world in his lifetime.  Much of the New Testament is written either by him or about his life and work.

But the greatest missionary story ever told is also the greatest Christmas story.  Jesus, the Son of God and the Prince of Heaven, came into this world as a tiny and helpless baby.  There was no room for him in the comfortable hotel, so his first nursery was a barn and his first crib an animal feed trough.  He was welcomed by humble shepherds and Gentile wise men.  He learned to walk and he learned to talk.  He dressed like the people and ate with them at their homes.    He spoke with them in words they would understand, telling stories of farmers and vineyards.

Jesus left the light to come into this dark world, that we may know how much the Father loves us.  This is the story that we are celebrating today.

John 1: 1

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

Philippians 2:6-11

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who being in very nature God,

did not consider equality with God

something to be grasped,

but made himself nothing,

taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

and became obedient to death--

even death on a cross.

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

and gave him the name that is above every name,

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord

to the glory of God the Father."

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