And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
This most familiar of Bible accounts warms our hearts and touches our souls. There is such a splendid array of characters, combination of events, and implied promises in just these four verses. They show us three essential dimensions to our relationship with God: Fear, love, and trust.
Fear is clearly expressed by the shepherds. Luke reports that they were doing their shepherdly thing when an angel appeared to them, replete with a manifestation of God’s glory. They were filled with great fear. God’s glory, being, angels, and raw presence is a fearful thing. We properly fear him.
There is, however, also love. Engendered by the baby, expressed in the gift of a Savior wrapped in common baby garb and laid in a manger. God’s love is shown here: a love for shepherds and for all people. For implicit in the announcement to the shepherds is the desire of God to deliver his people. The word to the shepherds and the invitation to go see the sign and the baby along with the command, “fear not,” show the love of God for us all. Love of God tempered with fear: this is a powerful combination!
Add to that trust, and you have the makings of an eternally-blessed relationship. Embracing God’s promises; believing the words of his messengers; trust in God’s goodness: these are the essence of faith. God invites us to such faith as is seen in the shepherds who will “go and see this thing that has come to pass.”
Fear, love, and trust are foundational to our relationship with God. Is there one to which God is calling you today?