If you were to name all of the people who God used in the Christmas story to bring about the birth of Jesus into the world, who would you think of? I would say Mary and Joseph (obviously), the wise men, and probably the shepherds. All the people who are in a nativity scene would probably make my list.
But what about the other people? What about the people who just went along doing their normal work, serving God faithfully, and never show up in a single nativity scene? Most of them we have never even heard of. Many of them maybe never knew the role they played!
In a world so focused on the bling and the glamour, the heroes and the heroines, it’s easy to feel like being an Average Joe for the Lord isn’t worth much. As a fellow Average Joe, I have that feeling all the time. But God used even Average Joes in their small roles to make room for the Savior of the World. How? Because He is the all-powerful God!
If you’re getting discouraged about the little work God has you doing this Christmas, think about these people:
1. The innkeeper and his wife
In Luke 2, the story of the birth of Jesus, verse 7 says this:
“And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
That is the sum total of the mention of the innkeeper and his wife (which actually isn’t even a mention at all). Yet, this couple, just running their inn, unwittingly gave a roof over the head of the Savior of the world. They weren’t doing anything special, but God chose to use their everyday work to serve Him.
2. Anyone who helped Mary and Joseph along their journey
Sticking with Luke’s account today, it describes these people this way in verses 4 and 5:
“Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.”
Again, no actual mention of people here… But this was a long journey! They probably met some people and journeyed with them, or borrowed something from someone, or asked directions, or bought food… Who knows how many people just gave their help to a poor young couple, and God used them to help serve and protect His Son?
3. All the people who were still waiting for a Messiah
At the time of Jesus’s birth, it had been 400 years since anyone had heard from God. There were prophecies of a Messiah who would come and save them, but all the people saw was the oppression of Rome day in and day out. How hard would it be to still trust, to still have faith?
Yet there were people all over Israel who were living out Hebrews 11:1, which says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
They had faith that God would keep His promises to them, no matter how bleak things looked. There were people, unnamed people, who told their children about the coming of a Messiah, who told their neighbors and their friends, and who kept each other looking for Jesus until the day He was among them.
Those people weren’t doing anything more than trusting God and sharing their hope with others, yet who knows how many believed in the saving grace Christ offered because they were already looking for it?
These people obviously are not who the Christmas story is about. The Christmas story is really only about Jesus,
“who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” -Philippians 2:6-8
It’s the story of a God who loved each individual enough to humble Himself for our sorry, sinning selves, make Himself into the form of a man, and die for us.
That God did not depend on any person to bring that story about. If every single person had refused to obey or to be faithful in their work, Jesus could still have been born. God doesn’t need us and if God works through us, then the story isn’t about us. It is always about God in His utter goodness.
But God chose to work through people, through Average Joes going through everyday life, to bring about miracles.
Who knows what things, big or little, God can use us to do if we will just be totally submissive, obedient, and faithful to Him in every aspect of our lives! If nothing else, when we are faithful in the little things, we can do them “as to the Lord and not to men” (Colossians 3:23), bringing glory to Him in the process!