When the wise men came into King Herod’s territory, looking for the “newborn king of the Jews”, the king was shaken. He gathered all Jewish leaders and teachers to find out where “this Messiah” was supposed to be born. The Jewish leaders had no problem answering his question.
“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the Shepherd for my people Israel.'” (Matthew 2:5-6, NLT).
Bethlehem was off the beaten path. It wasn’t the largest or most influential town in Judah. But God had plans for that little hamlet. From it would come the Messiah, the Deliverer, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This little, never-cross-your-mind town was ground zero for God’s plan of redemption. From this small country town God started the greatest movement the world has ever known with Jesus.
I’m part of a church in a place similar in some respects to Bethlehem. We’re located in Amory, Mississippi. Hardly anybody outside our area knows where Amory is. We’re off the beaten path. The population is around 7,000 people. Most of the industry has left town. We’re struggling. If there’s ever a town located in the country, it’s Amory. We’re in one of 10,000 other unknown towns just like ours. There’s not much talk in Amory about changing the world.
Not much, but some. I know it’s coming from LifePointe Church.
If there’s a lesson to be learned from Bethlehem, it’s this: It’s not what others know or think about your small town, it’s what God thinks about your small town. And I believe that God thinks more of Amory than one might think. God sees the needs and hurts and pain of the many who live in Amory. These people are equally as important to God as the people He sees in the same circumstances in New York City, Atlanta, Amsterdam, or Nairobi. And His plan to change these circumstances are all the same: people trusting Jesus Christ, who is preached, followed, and lived by His people.
We’re not in New York or Amsterdam. We are in Amory. But we’re part of God’s plan, too. For all we know we may be THE place that, by our love and ministry to others, spurs others in other locations to move fearlessly into action.
I believe God wants to send a new wave of awakening to our world. It may already be starting. And I don’t see why He can’t start a wave here. If God can take a little town like Bethlehem and bring from it our Savior and a movement that swept the Roman world, I don’t see why He can’t start a new world-sweeping movement in Amory, Mississippi.
So let’s get busy, LifePointe Church. Let’s get busy, Christ-followers of Amory. Let’s start loving like Jesus loved. Let’s start preaching like Jesus preached. Let’s quit doing our own idea of works and do the works of our Father. Let’s break away from religion and start modeling relationship. Let’s escape those religious rules, regulations, and traditions, and grab hold of grace and mercy. Let’s start celebrating Jesus like we will in heaven. Let’s start connecting as brothers and sisters, as if those relationships will last forever. Let’s look at those outside our church walls, not as unclean, undeserving people to be cast aside, but as people Jesus Christ gave His life for. Let’s take on the eyes, heart, and mind of Christ.
If God is ready to start a new wave of awakening, and I think He might, I don’t see why it can be in Amory. I don’t see any reason why Amory can’t be ground zero for the next mighty move of God. Who knows? Maybe twenty, fifty, a hundred years down the road, people may be saying, “Yeah, I’ve heard of Amory. That’s the little town that rocked the world.”