Someone growing up in another country, like a child of a missionary, faces some unique challenges. In some respects they are children of two cultures. Those who’ve grown up as children of missionaries in Brazil are fluent in both English and Portuguese and can get along in both cultures. But in some ways they don’t belong to either culture. Often they don’t feel or get looked at as fully Brazilian or fully American. It can be a challenge because we all want to belong.
Jesus belonged in the kingdom of heaven. He enjoyed the glorious comforts of that culture since before time began. But He left those comforts and came to this earth. He came to a place that spoke another language – the language of sin and suffering. In many ways He, the sinless One, didn’t fit into this culture.
Jesus became like a person of this culture. “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity … he had to be made like his brothers in every way” (Hebrews 2:14, 17). He learned the language of hunger and thirst and pain. He learned what it was like to not belong. “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” (John 1:11). He left the culture He belonged to and was rejected by the culture He came to.
It is not only the children of missionaries who struggle with belonging. Many of the commercials and advertisements at Christmas say this time of year is all about family. But some don’t belong to a biological family. Many of the activities and things associated with Christmas remind them of what they lack. They wish there was a group of people they could call their own. In some ways God created all of us with a longing for belonging. We long to belong to a group larger than just ourselves.
Jesus speaks the language of being rejected, not belonging and being alone. We try to avoid learning that language but Jesus chose to learn it. He chose to become one who “was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3). When we struggle with not belonging we can turn to Him with confidence that He understands. When we hurt from rejection we can run to Him and know He chooses us to be in His family. When we suffer from feeling alone we lean on Jesus who came to this earth and promises He will never leave us.
The songs and the shows and the commercials can make us feel alone at Christmas. But in some ways Christmas, more than any other holiday, is the time when we should have the least feeling of being alone. Christmas is about Jesus taking on flesh and dwelling among us (John 1:14). Jesus came so that we never have to be alone.
Christmas is about family time. It’s about Jesus coming so that we can belong to the family of God. The Lord chose to be despised and rejected so that you could receive a loving welcome and know you belong in the family of God.