As a whole, the story of Christ’s birth is one of humble beginnings. The man who would live a perfect life, conquer death, offer saving grace to all of humanity, and sit at God’s right hand was born to an unwed, teenage mother and a working class, adoptive father. In a barn. And He went on to become a simple carpenter. Talk about contrast. And it wasn’t an accident!
In this contrast between the hugeness of who Christ really was and how He lived, we find one of the enduring themes in Christianity. We see God’s love for taking something the world sees as worthless and spinning it into something of untold beauty and value in His hands.
Humble, Normal People
God’s definition of value and worth are vastly different from the world’s. In an age where we want others to see piles of Christmas gifts under our trees and the perfect holiday photos on our perfect Christmas cards of our perfect families, God just wants you. All too often, we hesitate to follow where God leads with proper confidence and obedience because we apply the wrong values. We listen to the world, rather than to God. We forget that God doesn’t care who we are or what we have or how awesome our families are. He is most glorified in His ability to transform us and use humble, normal people, like Mary and Joseph for plans that stretch far beyond our imaginations.
Good, Not Easy
Paths of obedience and humility aren’t always easy ones to live out, but it’s important to remember that easy and GOOD aren’t always the same for Christians.
Mary and Joseph probably faced a great deal of worldly shame through Jesus’ birth. People could do the math on how long after their marriage a baby should be born, and, even if they’d hidden Mary’s “situation” well, people could have guessed in the long run. They also faced marital challenges since they both had to reconcile this unbelievable pregnancy, while also remaining chaste until after Jesus was born. Even after Jesus was born, they had to leave their home to flee a murderous king, not knowing when or if they’d ever return. And yet, they were blessed with the unsurpassed honor of raising and intimately knowing Jesus.
God’s glory may seem costly by worldly standards, but whatever we endure for its sake is of far greater value, and in the end, as we saw last week, God is faithful to provide through our circumstances.
At other times, when God puts us on a path, we look at Him in disbelief. We struggle to believe that He is powerful enough to use us as a part of His plan. We don’t believe that we can contribute anything from our seemingly inadequate abilities.
At the beginning of Luke, Zechariah received a visit from Gabriel similar to Mary’s, announcing that his old and barren wife, Elizabeth, would conceive. In comparison to Mary, Zechariah was the one with all of the credentials for trusting God’s promises and being a part of God’s plan: he was a priest who had lived a righteous life. But Zechariah’s heart-level response wasn’t one that trusted that God could deliver on this miracle. It seemed physically impossible to him. And Zechariah was rebuked for his disbelief by becoming mute until his child was born and named John.
Mary on the other hand, the unlikely mother of Jesus, accepted her fate not because she saw herself as unworthy, but because she saw that her very unworthiness was what glorified God most. In her humility, she, not the priest Zechariah, had the greater privilege of calling Jesus her son. God’s definition of success, of heroism, or usefulness isn’t the same as ours. It has nothing to do with our innate qualities and everything to do with what we can become in the Potter’s hand.
It’s Him, Not You
That’s why God wants the you who can’t buy the most expensive presents, but who gives her children the gift of salvation by sharing the Gospel with them. He wants the you who didn’t have the energy to decorate a Pinterest-worthy Christmas tree because you’re halfway through a deployment and you’re emotionally exhausted.
Whoever you are, the story God wants to weave from your humble reality with the golden threads of salvation and sanctification is extraordinarily beautiful. Ultimately, your story points back to God when you trust and seek Him through it all. Whoever you are, God wants you to see how much He loves and pursues you with the same care He called and used Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in their humility to put on display the grandest story mankind has ever known. When we let His sovereignty and faithfulness shine, we create beauty and value that aren’t weighed by the ever-changing fads of earthly culture.
So instead of looking at what you lack or feeling ashamed that your life doesn’t measure up to all worldly standards, ask yourself this: what glory does God get in your circumstances or in how He’s using your life?
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Do you ever feel unworthy or unremarkable? In light of how God loves to use His people, how do you think your views should change?
Are there any areas in your life where you feel God is trying to use you, but you’re hesitating to step up to the plate?