(Photo by Selma Komisky)
By Zelda Dominguez
I recently went to visit family, and while I was there I visited a Whole Foods Market. Oh my, it is not your regular market! First off, it served an array of different international, plant based food, hot foods, and more. Whole Foods is the first grocer in the United States to have certified adherence to National Organic Program standards, which involves monitoring products from the time they are grown until they are placed in a shopping cart. Whole Foods Market has a policy of donating at least five percent of its annual net profits to charitable causes. They were the first U.S. supermarket to commit to completely eliminating disposable plastic grocery bags to help protect the environment. This supermarket exclusively sells products free from hydrogenated fats and artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. They have strong requirements for their seafood, meat, and all their products. But there is much more about this unconventional store that I loved.
Let’s look at the definition of the word unconventional. It means not based on, or conforming to what is generally done or believed.
As I thought about that word and the coming of Christmas, the thought came to me there was nothing conventional about the first Christmas night. The miracle of God coming to us as a tiny baby, yet a King, Immanuel, God with us. It wasn’t about a loving, family-value mother caring for a conventional child. It was about Mary, an unwed teen mother, expectant in a most unconventional way. The good news didn’t come not to the educated and the powerful; instead, it came by angels to shepherds working by night in a field. Not to the biblical scholars, but to Magi, Gentile outsiders, pagan astrologers, did the star appear. Jesus ended up being born in a cave that served as a stable, not in a palace, but wrapped in rags, not a warm blanket.
The one who spoke everything into existence laid in a lowly manger or cattle trough, instead of a cradle. Different walks of life, from the shepherds to the fancy clothed wise men, came to worship and see the baby Jesus. Even the gifts that were brought were unconventional. They brought a baby, but not just any baby, gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Although these men were not Jewish, they were advised by King Herod to come back and let him know the infant’s whereabouts so he may come worship him. After the three had an encounter with Jesus, they then traveled back home a different way knowing that King Herod was not intending to worship Jesus, but that he planned to kill the baby.
We see in the New Testament during Jesus’ ministry that He’d occasionally use unconventional methods. For example, He healed many times in unexpected ways. He told the lame man to stand up, pick up his mat and walk! For the 12, He recruited apostles that were ordinary men, mostly fishermen, tradesmen, and a tax collector. Jesus saw the religiosity and hypocrisy of the Pharisees and how they focused more on their rules and traditions than their love for God. They criticized Jesus for associating with the publicans and sinners. Jesus feeds 5,000 with a few fish and five loaves of bread. He walks on water and calms the sea. Jesus puts His fingers in the deaf and mute man’s ears, then He spits, touched the man’s tongue, and then shouts: be open! He heals him completely as He also used spit and mud to heal another blind man. After being summoned to come quickly, His friend Lazarus was dying. Jesus waits a few days then upon arriving calls him by name out of the tomb and brings him to life. He ministers to the gentiles. In a day where women were considered lower than dogs, Jesus has women followers and ministered to the adulteress Samaritan and the woman with the issue of blood. In preparing for His death at the last supper, He humbly washes the feet of His disciples.
So remember this Christmas season and coming year – we are called as Christ followers to be different and extraordinary. A lot like today, Jesus knew that the conventional religious methods were not fully accomplishing God’s purposes. God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours. So we serve a God who is purposeful, intentional, faithful, and His timing is perfect. Instead of concentrating on more lights for your house and tree, we are to be the light of the world. Help us, Lord, to not limit You to our expectations; Help us to step out of our comfort zones, follow Your direction, and obey.
We don’t see things from His perspective. I recently got a prayer answered. Did it come in a way I thought? No. Did it take the time I expected? No. What the world says is impossible is possible with God. Walk by faith and not by sight, logic, others opinion, or your expectations. Sometimes we limit God and reject His work or calling because it seems different. Trust, obey, and share the Good News with the world. May we thank God for His unconventional, but perfect work in our lives, fulfilled in His Son for our sake!