I remember a former colleague telling a story about how a student came to be a believer through hearing the genealogies in Matthew and Luke. Those of us listening laughed with some measure of incredulity. After the last few months, however, a combination of reading Ruth, and the studies of Hebrews at the local small group I’ve been attending, I finally saw what it is to be moved by a genealogy!
My gaze was drawn in particular to these people mentioned in Matthew: Tamar, who disguised herself as a prostitute and slept with her father-in-law; Rahab, an actual prostitute; Ruth, a descendant of the shameful Moab, born of incest; Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife, mother of Solomon, born of an adulterous affair; Mary, whose circumstances may have resulted from divine intervention, and yet would definitely have been greatly doubted and hence – the girl despised for falling pregnant out of wedlock, a sin ordinarily punishable by death.
These women – ordinarily looked down upon in their society – all included in the genealogy of Christ. Not only that, Hebrews 11 includes Rahab in the ‘hall of faith’ – she is among those whom the writer tells us ‘God is not ashamed to be called their God’ (v16). But that is not all.
Not only is He unashamed to be associated with them, He is also unashamed to be related to them.
Our great Maker, the Author of everything in existence – the great I AM who spoke the galaxies into being and sustains everything in the universe down to the smallest quark – the King of kings, the Holy One, the Alpha and Omega – He was not only born into a stinking stable (which in spite of our cute domesticated nativity sets, were probably dirty, smelly, and extremely unhygienic). He was also born into a family whose bloodline was far from ‘pure’ by Israel’s standards, and not only that, a heritage that comprised of multiple shameful pasts.
And consider also, the first to witness the Savior’s birth. Shepherds on the outskirts of town. Not the powerful, not the influential. Those overlooked by others. What a privilege to be the first to see the Savior! How beloved by God were they!
And so, this Christmas, I am reminded — God loves the broken, the forgotten, the ’scandalous’. Both those of us seen as impure by society, and those of us who are seen as pure, but actually are not. All of us. How can we fail to love those around us who are pushed to the margins of our society, our community, when our God so clearly does?
Amongst China’s Urban Billion, there are prostitutes, there are adulterers, there are poor working class migrants, there are single mothers. And God loves them all. May we, as the body of Christ, see them as God sees them, and bring them the news that God is unashamed of them. May we work to this end, so that Christ might be honored in all sectors of society.