As we ourselves have run down the hill with the shepherds, looked at the baby, and heard the shepherds’ testimony, have we believed? If we have, that is a happy thing indeed, for it means we are now Christians. That is fine, but then we must ask ourselves: what difference has this looking made in our present lives?
At Christmastime, we set up our Christmas trees and toy trains. We may even walk along singing carols, or we may preach a sermon, but these bits and pieces are barren if we are thinking only of them or even thinking only of being in heaven, and are not stopping to ask ourselves, “What difference does it make in my life now?” What difference has looking made? I think we can approach the answer by thinking about the shepherds. Having had this overwhelming experience in the midst of their normal environment and having believed in the Savior, can we imagine one of the shepherds remarking, “It’s very nice that I’ve seen an angel, and it is nice I have seen the Christ, the Messiah the Jews have been waiting for, for so long. It’s nice that I’ve believed in him (unlike some of the other people in Bethlehem) and that I’m going to be in heaven. But really, in practice, it’s not going to make any difference at all in my life.” This is inconceivable.
Since the shepherds were much like each one of us, they faced a round of old sins when they returned to life as usual. In the light of their experience of looking at the face of the baby Jesus, in the light of their understanding of that situation, can we imagine them continuing to live in sin as though it were normal, without being sorry and having real repentance? I think not. I would suggest that the shepherds, full of the reality of what they had seen in the heavens and in the manger, would have been sorry for their past sins and even more if they sinned again.” -Francis Schaeffer