Thursday, December 29, 2022

Earning Trust By Going Undercover

Suggested Reading: Luke 2:21-35

Every now and then, my wife watches a show called Undercover Boss. If you’ve seen the show, you know the premise of the show is that the CEO of a company spends a week undercover and in disguise, working entry level and mid-level positions within the company, attempting to ascertain problems that need addressing with the company and its employees. When the week is up, the boss normally holds a big meeting where he lets the employees in on the secret and then announces changes based on his experience in the lower levels. The employees generally end up feeling like the boss understands them a little better and there is a greater sense of camaraderie and trust between the boss and the employees because they know that he understands what they go through.

A passage at the tail-end of the Christmas story reminded me of that dynamic recently. Luke 2 tells us, On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived. When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons” (Luke 2:21-24, NIV). Now, this passage may not seem extraordinary but it is. You see, Jesus could have been born with announcements to every major dignitary in the known world. Jesus could have been born and proclaimed by angels in such a way that everyone on the planet knew who he was. Jesus would have been above the rules everyone else had to live under. But, instead, Jesus chose to be born into a poor Jewish family and to grow up with the same rules and laws everyone else had to abide by. Jesus was circumcised just like every other male in his society. He had to be redeemed just like every other firstborn in his society. He grew up poor and learned how to work. He experienced temptation and exhaustion, just like every one of us.

Jesus didn’t have to go through all of those things in order to understand us or our situation. He already understood those things better than we do. But because he went through all of the same things that we go through, because he had to abide by the rules and keep the traditions, because he grew up poor and had to work for what he had, because he didn’t give himself special privileges he could have demanded, we can trust that he knows what it is like for us. Hebrews 4:15-16 tells us, For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (NIV).

At times, we are tempted to believe that God is simply some distant dictator, giving us orders and commanding us to do things, but who is so far removed from our situation that God doesn’t really understand what he is asking of us. But because Jesus came as he did, submitting himself to the same world we live in, having to deal with the same kinds of people we have to put up with, and having to face the same temptations that we face, we can trust that he does understand us and the situations in which we find ourselves. We can trust that God is not unreasonable.

God went undercover, at least in part, so that we could trust him when he gives us direction. The situation you face is not unknown to him. Trust him now in the midst of it.

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