"Suddenly, with the angel, there was a crowd of the heavenly armies. They were praising God, saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and peace upon earth among those in his favor.'" Luke 2:13-14
We live in a culture that seems to resent any kind of exclusivity, particularly when it comes to world-views or what we call "religion." Tolerance is the popular notion of our day. We like to kid ourselves that all world views are created equal. So, we don't like it when angels in the Bible announce some good news that will only be for the benefit of a select group of people, namely, "those in His (God's) favor." That is much too exclusive. But whether we like it or not, there are lines that define us as human beings. In fact, the "tolerance" movement itself is an attempt to redraw these lines. The reason someone might place a "tolerance" sticker on their car is in order to say "I believe this is the way that we should behave and you should too." It is a conundrum for secular America.
Exclusivism in the world is both distasteful at times and absolutely necessary and even desired at other times. Who would care about winning the Super Bowl if there was no one to lose it? Who would care about possessing gold if it fell off the trees day by day? Why would we have a President of the United States if all government positions were of equal importance? We live with exclusivism at every level, all the time. We must recognize this if we ever hope to progress as liberal thinkers. I myself wrote an article just last week saying that Christmas is for Everyone, but that too has stipulations. The stipulation is that this good news of Christmas is for that special group of people "in God's favor". That is exclusive. However, and Luke's Gospel bears this out, being in God's favor is an equal opportunity provider. There is no pre-existing qualification required. There is no resume. no race, no level of income or education and no track record of accomplishments that will give you an advantage. Anyone can enter God's favor. All that is required is that we receive God for who He is, as opposed to who we imagine or wish Him to be. We must agree with His way of being Himself and we will find ourselves in His favor. Anyone can do this. It may require some humbling changes of perspective but that is a small price to pay to enter "God's favor." In fact, it's hardly a price at all since, as Jesus Himself said, "the truth will set you free."The price tag for entering God's favor, in other words, is accepting our own release from false premises. This is a win win. This is good news for all people. This is Christmas.