Luke 2:8-12. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Everybody knows what it feels like to be an underdog. Everybody knows what it feels like to go into a game and feel like you don’t have a chance, to go into a job interview and know others are more qualified, to step into a room and have the wrong degree or pedigree, to step into a chapter of life and suspect you are far behind. I remember when I first sensed I was being called into ministry in the midst of a career in environmental science, and I wondered if God had made a mistake and called the wrong number. But the interesting thing about being an underdog is that underdogs tend to learn things that others do not. Underdogs tend to be more open to possibilities outside the usual expectations. Underdogs tend to see and hear things that others neglect.
Underdogs are uniquely positioned to listen to the voice of God.
The shepherds in the fields that night so long ago were the underdogs of the ancient world and the Jewish people of the time. They were the rejects of society, the worst job on the planet, the people deemed too messed up for God to even care. Nobody at all would have bet on them to be the ones God would first speak to at the coming of the Messiah. But here they are, interrupted in the midst of their night-shift work by none other than an angel, God’s aggelos—his messenger. The shepherds are chosen by God not because of their prestige or education or status or experience—but in spite of all of it and the things everybody tells us really matter to get us ahead in life. This is a God who operates differently than the world—a God who chooses stutterers to lead, who looks at hearts before heights, and who calls young prophets to speak difficult messages to powerful leaders. This is a God who takes adulterers and widows and left-for-dead sons and knits them into the family tree of the Messiah. This is a God whose image of power comes in a manger, leads uneducated fishermen, rides a donkey, and encounters death on a cross without retaliation. This is a God for people who own that they’re broken and not in control, a God for people whose knees are wobbling in their current circumstances, a God for people who are looking and listening and desperately know they’re in need a Savior.
This is a God of the underdog.
Jesus comes for shepherds—and he comes for you. If you’ve been told you don’t make the cut, you don’t measure up, or you think God’s picked the wrong guy or gal-- have no fear. God knows exactly what he’s doing.
Are you listening?