Christmas is upon us. How committed are you to what you believe about Jesus? As we move through Advent this year, we look at different people in the Bible who had to do with the birth of Christ. These people were committed.
Consider Mary. She was a young woman in a culture that would not look kindly on a pregnancy outside of marriage, and yet she so trusted God that she agreed to carry the Son of God, even though she knew that not everyone would believe that God simply caused her to be with child through His Divine power.
She knew that Joseph might not believe her, and that could have led him to divorce her from their engagement. She knew that her family might not allow her to stay in their home if they didn’t believe her. Yet she so trusted the Lord that she simply yet courageously said to the angel, “Behold the bondservant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”
What trust in the Lord she had. What a commitment of faith to basically say, “I accept the will of the Lord, come what may.”
Consider Joseph. He realized Mary was pregnant when she returned from her three-month stay with her relative Elizabeth. Although he was considering divorcing Mary because of her pregnancy, when an angel of the Lord told him what Mary’s pregnancy was about, by faith he took her as his wife.
I am sure that Joseph knew that people of the community would not believe Mary’s story, and that they would look upon Joseph as a fool. I imagine that Joseph realized that such a marriage would make it harder for him to provide for his family. But Joseph trusted the word of the Lord. He had faith in the Lord that His will should be done, no matter what, and so he committed himself in faith to what the Lord wanted of him, come what may.
Consider also the Magi. We do not know how God caused them to understand that “the star in the east” was somehow connected to the birth of the King of the Jews, but it is obvious He did. We do not know how far they traveled in order to find the infant King, but most theologians believe it was likely about 750 miles. That would be like you walking or riding a camel from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles. That would be 1,500 miles round trip.
The time they committed to that endeavor would have been about two months round trip. In addition it would have consumed a lot of resources for all of the people involved in that caravan, as well as the cost of the gifts they chose to give Him, not to mention the risks such travels posed in those days.
Knowing what I do of people and spiritual commitments, I have no doubt that some, if not many, of their colleagues thought that such an endeavor was a waste of time, if not outright stupidity, unworthy of men of science. Yet, regardless of what it might mean for their futures, they were willing to go.
All of this was based on the faith they placed in what God had revealed to them. By faith they were committed to find this One born King of the Jews. They committed themselves to this journey of faith so that they could worship this One God had revealed to them, come what may.
Each of these we have looked at put themselves, their reputations, even their entire futures on the line so that they could move forward in the revealed will of God for their lives. Other than Mary, many might not consider these people we have looked at to be major players on the stage of God’s Kingdom work, but I think that God would disagree. I believe the Bible makes it clear that anyone who lives and risks based on faith in the Lord is a major player in the work of God’s Kingdom.
What about you? You likely consider Jesus from time to time; not only at Christmas, but possibly frequently during the course of a week or the year. But how does that impact your journey in life?
Are you willing to risk all for Christ, come what may? Or do you simply acknowledge Him, maybe even weekly as you attend your religious services, and then go your own way, living in a way that is hardly distinguishable from the people that surround you in the community or at work?
Christ was born so that He might die to give you life — life eternal. From Scripture it is clear that He lived in such a way that the community He lived in knew that He was different.
In His public ministry He risked all to move forward in faith that the Father’s will had to be pursued, come what may. And He calls you and I to live the same way.
Christmas isn’t about giving as much as it is about laying down your life for Christ. It is about doing the will of God by faith, even though your family may disown you, even though your community may laugh at your foolishness.
Of all the things I could wish for you and me this Christmas, it would be that we chose to turn our backs on the ordinary, and strive for the extraordinary will of God in our lives that can only be attained by following Christ in resolute faith, come what may.
Jon McCartney is pastor of First Baptist Church of Tooele.