Surprising Messengers, Surprising Messaged

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By Joshua Tate

Let me begin by saying that I do not know if such a thing as a bigfoot exists, but I will confess that I do enjoy watching television programs that argue for its existence. Over the years I have sat down in front of the TV and watched scores of documentaries featuring witnesses who excitedly recounted a time when they saw a bigfoot on a logging road, hiking trail or peering in through a cabin window. Although I struggle to articulate exactly what it is about these stories that hooks me and draws me in, I think it would be fair to say that I see a little bit of myself in these breathless, excited witnesses who make the claim before a skeptical audience that they have witnessed something extraordinary and mysterious.

I was watching a documentary recently about bigfoot, and I noticed something that got me thinking about Christian evangelists who have similarly answered the call to open their mouths in front of a skeptical world and bear witness to the mysterious, life-giving encounter they have had with God. In this particular documentary they introduced each witness by telling me, the viewer, their age and profession. One witness was a police officer in his mid-30’s, another was a nurse in her 50’s, and another was an older gentleman who worked as a professor at a university. Each looked earnest, reputable and squeaky clean as they claimed to have had an encounter with a bigfoot, but why did the show’s producers feel it necessary to give me their age and profession? Well, obviously, they felt it added credibility to their story. If you had watched the documentary with me you would have noticed that the show’s producers did not include eyewitness accounts from pimply-faced adolescents, toothless hillbillies, or known con men. Why not? Well, obviously most viewers would not have been inclined to view such witnesses as credible.

Isn’t it strange then when we consider whom God has called to be His witnesses. When Jesus entered creation through the womb of Mary, a host of angels appeared to a group of Shepherds tending their flocks outside of Bethlehem, and proclaimed His birth to them. In time, all people from all classes and walks of life would be reached with the news that Jesus had been born but the Shepherds were the first, and the only ones who were visited by an angel with the news. The angels didn’t appear to the High Priest, members of the Sahhedrin, or Caesar in Rome, but only to this humble, unlikely group of shepherds.

Luke 2:17 tells us that after going into Bethlehem and witnessing the Christ-child with their own eyes we are told that they, “made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.” That should be a great encouragement to all Christians who feel inadequate to the task of sharing their faith. Those shepherds, who were the first evangelists of the new Testament, were rough, uneducated, simple, untrained, and inexperienced, but God chose them to be His first evangelists
The thought of sharing our simple faith in Jesus with someone may make us feel anxious, tongue-tied and inadequate, but when we think of those shepherds we see that God does not operate like the producers of that Bigfoot documentary. He can clothe the most unlikely messenger in a supernatural authority and credibility if we will only believe earnestly in the message that has been entrusted to us and communicate it faithfully.

As a pastor who frequently exhorts my brothers and sisters to share their faith I will count myself a failure, a complete and utter failure, if I preach sermons that set the rafters humming and fill people with wonder, but which do not motivate them to go out and tell others what has been made known to them. Christians are conduits of blessings not a reservoir. What the shepherds received from the angel they also spilled out in the streets of Bethlehem. They “made known” what had been told them concerning Jesus, and that is our calling also. We should give voice to what we have seen and heard, and in so doing we get to give people God. What a privilege!

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