Scripture Reading — Luke 1:26-38
"May it be to me as you have said."
How big a risk has God ever asked you to take? Some risks for the sake of obedience gather the applause of people around us. But how about taking a risk that bubbles forth scorn from people you know best?
Recently I was talking with a Japanese pastor whose commitment to Christ's kingdom had a steep price. When he put his faith in Jesus, he knew that friends and family would shun him. But what gave him strength was this word of Christ: "He who loves mother and father more than me is not worthy of me" (see Matt. 10:37).
Mary, the mother of Jesus, embraced the spirit of those words even before her son was born. As a young girl of perhaps 14, Mary knew the ridicule she would face when she told neighbors her story. She would not be the only one who would ask, "How will this be?"
God had given a command appropriate to all obedient risk-takers: "Do not be afraid!" In the Christmas story, this command came to Mary, Joseph, and Zechariah. Why is this command so important? Because fear paralyzes us and keep us from risky discipleship.
"But perfect love drives out fear" (1 John 4:18). It is Mary's love for God that allows her to submit to his will. And it is our love for Christ that allows us to move out of comfortable spaces to experience the risk-and exhilaration-of serious obedience.
<p>Lord, we hear you calling us, and we are afraid. You find us cowering in the corner. Call us to courage. Fill us with the love that sets us free to obey. In Jesus, Amen.</p>