Dignified and Dignifier

I'm back into the New Testament in my Chronological Bible, and the first couple of days have been about the birth of John and the birth of Jesus. Today as I read, I saw anew how, in so many ways, Jesus has restored dignity to people through His incarnation. He dignified us by being born a man, in our likeness. He dignified babies. He dignified children, teenagers, grown men.

To go a little deeper, though--Jesus dignified the displaced, immigrants, refugees. He was born in the city of David, true, but not in a hospital, not in the family home, but in a feed trough. He was born in transit, as His parents obeyed the rules of an empire that did not recognize them as equal to Roman citizens. He ended up in Egypt in the early part of his life, a refugee with his parents from the violence of Herod.

Jesus dignified all women pregnant under sketchy circumstances. He dignified children with stepdads. He dignified mixed families. He dignified illegitimate children. He dignified people in dysfunctional families. In His whole life, He lived under the labels that people put on Him--even as an adult, other adults would say to Him, "We know who our fathers are." They assumed He was the product of adultery, of His mother's unfaithfulness. The interesting thing is that He willingly lived with people calling Him and His mom into question that way.

Jesus dignified the disfigured, dignified people born with disabilities. He dignified the short :). He dignified those with communicable diseases. He dignified the demonized. He dignified those who could not control themselves. He dignified cutters. He dignified parents who had children with major problems. He dignified children with parents who had major problems. He dignified those married multiple times, dignified people who were in the middle of shacking up. He dignified those trapped in sin. He dignified women who had been taken advantage of. He dignified those so hungry for love they would do almost anything. He dignified prostitutes. He dignified all women, at every stage and circumstance in life. He dignified the hopeless. He dignified common criminals, thieves, government employees (I kid, I kid! Though He did dignify government employees). He dignified soldiers, common people in the crowds, hungry people, politicians who had gotten caught up in the manipulations of others.

Does this sound a little shocking? Can Jesus dignify people without condoning behavior? I think so, yes. Nowhere did His standard fall short, but He was so generous in restoring dignity to people. It's amazing to read the New Testament and to see who Jesus chose to minister to and through. In John 4, the first person He decided to spend time with was the last person on anyone's list of good company. He went out of His way as a Jewish man in His time to find the Samaritan woman and relate to her. Given an entire city to talk to and any number of citizens to choose as an ambassador, He found the multiple divorcee who was so universally reviled that she had to go out in the sun and get water at noon, when no one else would be at the well. When He picked His major twelve ambassadors, He chose several fishermen, a skeptic, a government employee (tax collector), a former terrorist, and an outright traitor. When He was picking people to write the New Testament, He picked a former self-righteous killer and persecutor of the church--and He picked him while he was going out to arrest Christians and drag them into prison.

I find great comfort and encouragement in the dignity that Jesus gave the worst possible people. That means there's dignity in being me. That also means that there's dignity in being you. Maybe you're somewhere on the list I wrote out. Maybe you have secret shames that aren't on the list. Maybe you have open shame. You have dignity in Jesus Christ, because He became like you. He wasn't afraid of people like you. He hugged people with leprosy; He's not afraid to touch you at all. In fact, you may be exactly who He's looking for as an ambassador. That would be just like Him. Are you willing to accept the dignity He offers you?

  •  I'm loving being in the Word a lot. I'm very thankful for the fact that God lets me in to see His character and His ways. 
  • Things are starting to gel a bit with the new Persian church. Right now we're still pretty much only meeting as a team, but it's good that we're learning how to be with each other and spend time with each other not just as a job thing. We're building some unity and some understanding of each other in community, and that's really neat.
  • I've had several opportunities to share with my landlord and with one of my friends at the Centre.
Prayer requests
  • Please pray that people would be interested in coming to the conference this weekend (Oct. 7-8). Pray for God to open people's hearts to the need around them and to give them a desire to reach out across cultural barriers.
  • Please pray for continued protection for the Centre. We keep having attempted break-ins, and it's disheartening. Pray for God's provision for the Centre as well--volunteers, money, students, etc. Pray that we would be such salt and light even in how we operate on a daily basis--that people would see the difference in us.
  • Please pray for my landlord and my friend, and for the other ladies I encounter. Pray for a moving of the Holy Spirit to give people spiritual understanding (I Cor. 2:14). Pray for boldness and wisdom for me as I speak with people.
  • Pray for wisdom for me in setting priorities and in developing relationships.
  • Pray for divine encounters, for open doors to share the good  news, open hearts to receive it, and open windows of heaven to bless the work.
  • Pray for vision for my team in this church plant.

Again, I really appreciate your prayers so much. The fact that people pray for me is a huge deal, and I don't take it for granted.

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