You, a “virgin,” will bear a child. Do not be afraid.
Oh, the looming scandal, what would people say? How many would have rejected this “blessing,” but Mary did not balk. She accepted the potential disgrace, the disapproval, the whispers. “I am the doulos, the servant of the Lord. Be it done to me, according to your word.” I will not be afraid.
* * *
Potential scandal and disgrace: the price Joseph paid to live with God. Mary, engaged, “showed.” Joseph wanted to quietly break up, but the angel challenges him, “Do not afraid.” (Matt. 1:20).
“Your wife’s baby will come too early. She will be gossiped about. Why, you will be gossiped about. But ‘he will save his people from their sins.’” (Matt: 1:22). Do not be afraid.
* * *
Oh, wouldn’t we love to be grabbed by God, filled with his Spirit, to live seeing the whole earth and our whole lives filled with his glory. To live seeing God with the eyes of faith, his joy bubbling up in our hearts, spilling over. To live in his presence, hearing his voice and brilliant guidance. To live in the continual feast which is worship.
It will come with a cost. There will be a price. And the same imperative: Do not be afraid.
* * *
“Woe to you when all men speak well of you,” Jesus says (Luke 6:26). Woe to the impressive, to you who dazzle, who have it all, do it all, are the cleverest, thinnest, richest, the best-organized, best housekeeper, best cook, highest-achiever, if what you have sacrificed for all this glory is anonymous, unrecognized, unpraised, soul-blessing, joy-giving, time-consuming communion with him who chose the dirt and mess and downward mobility of the stable floor.
* * *
Christian, if your current life isn’t giving you joy and peace and the yummy, soul-filling presence of God, you must do things differently. You must live differently. You must make room for Him. Do not be afraid.
When Christ, the King on the white horse, whose name is faithful and true, comes to us, as he did to Mary, prepare to be shaken up.
We may ask his help to be a little thinner, a littler richer, a bit more successful, a bit more organized, for help to get our kids to be like other people’s Christmas-letter kids. To get our house and garden and car and wardrobe and grooming exactly like everyone else’s so all men speak well of us.
But, odds are, he has a different agenda. These things aren’t really giving us joy, are they?
God, I suspect, is totally unimpressed by the American Dream which is permeating the world—“prosperity, success and upward social mobility achieved through hard work.”
Why? Because he can give these things at the snap of his fingers, all these things the pagans run after (Matthew 6: 32-33).
* * *
God’s dream for us is different. It does not involve the things we earn or achieve through spirit-numbing, joy-crushing, body-wearying, heart-atrophying hard work, but the things He wants to freely give.
And these are: Complete Joy (John 15:11)
Peace that the world cannot give (John 14:27)
Rest (Matthew 11: 28)
Our souls filled with a fountain of living waters. (John 4:13)
Light (John 8:12).
* * *
Christ will never agree to be an Add-On, a Plug-In to help make a life foolishly overloaded to collapsing point work a little bit better, so that we can squeeze in even more.
C. S. Lewis writes: Christ says “Give me all of you! I don’t want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work. I want you! All of you! I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man or woman, but to kill it! No half measures will do. I don’t want to only prune a branch here and a branch there; rather I want the whole tree out! Hand it over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them all over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self—in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart, shall become your heart.”
* * *
This year, in baby steps, let’s labour less for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life (John 6:27).
Let’s begin to step from the Kingdom of this world to the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ by marching to the drumbeats of Christ, the champagne of whose joy can alone fill our soul. For the things of this world—we’ve tried them, there is no peace, no joy, no rest in them.
And perhaps we will be a little fatter, and our houses a little scruffier, and our gardens less perfect and we will not buy the new car, furniture, kitchen and clothes (or consume our life with shopping and earning and paying for them) and our kids will be put into fewer frazzling music, sports, dramatic and clubs that they will—guaranteed!!—soon drop. If we don’t drop before they do.
God willing, we will begin slowing down the pace of our treadmill, one by one dropping the stuff, activities and time-and-life-sucking trivial imposed “duties” we most despise.
We will become ourselves as star differs from star in splendour (1 Cor: 15:41). We will slow down; we will not conform; we will dare to be different; we will slowly exchange the crazy of our lives for the King.
Do not be afraid. Revise your life so that it matches your dreams.
Do not be afraid. Why not be totally changed into fire?
Matthew 1-2 Blog Through the Bible Project