The Risks of Following Jesus

Summary Luke 1:26-45

Mary believed in God, and she believed God and what he said to her. She accepted God’s calling on her life, although it surely would mean much rejection and many false accusations against her, and even death as a strong possibility.

For who would believe her that she was impregnated of the Spirit of God? Who would believe her that she had not sinned? Who would believe her that the child she was to bear was the Son of God, their promised Messiah, the Christ? Think about it. Would you have believed her?

But Mary had the faith to believe, and she accepted that calling no matter how crazy it may have sounded to anyone else, knowing fully what this could cost her in this life. And that takes great faith! And that kind of faith can only come from God.

And then the Lord honored that faith by validating what God had said to her. Her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist, filled with the Holy Spirit said,

“But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1:43-45 NIV

Wow! Talk about validation! Was Mary looking for this? No! Did she need this to obey the Lord? No! But did God honor her faith by validating her in this way? Yes! Why? It doesn’t say, but perhaps to encourage her, to comfort her, and to strengthen her for when she faced the false accusations, the persecution, and the rejection that was most certainly to come.

Luke 1:46-55 NIV

And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”

Glorify Him

Mary not only glorified the Lord by her words, but she glorified the Lord by her faith and her submission to God’s will and by her obedience to his calling on her life, even in the face of most certain abandonment and rejection. And that is the kind of faith we who follow Jesus with our lives are to have, too.

We have to be willing to step out in faith in obedience to our Lord in following him wherever he leads us in doing whatever it is he has called us to do, even if other people don’t understand us, or agree with us, or even if they reject us, falsely accuse us, and slander us, too.

Even though the measurement of knowing if it is God’s calling upon our lives is that it must agree with Scripture, it doesn’t have to be something that has been done before. It doesn’t have to fit inside a box we humans create for ourselves in how we think God should or should not work.

The Scriptures teach that God chose the despised, the rejected, the poor, and the lowly, so that none of us would boast before him. We know where we came from. We know that we were worthless in the eyes of many people. We know that not many valued us or thought we would make it to anything.

So, we know that it is only because of Jesus that we are in Christ Jesus. We aren’t righteous in our own eyes. Our righteousness, holiness and redemption only come from the Lord and not from ourselves. And it is those who know this, who believe this, who God will call and who he can use.

Now, God is not going to call us to do something contrary to his divine purpose and will for our lives, or anything against his moral character, or anything against his commandments for us to love him with our whole being and for us to love our neighbors as ourselves.

But he may call us to something that has not been done before, or that has not been done exactly that way before, or that doesn’t fit with traditional religion, but that is outside the box of institutional Christianity, for he definitely operated outside their box, which is why they hated him.

And if we operate outside that box, which is a creation of man, not of God, we should expect that we are going to be misunderstood and mistreated. But if we want God to use us, we have to be willing to go with him and do what he says even if it doesn’t meet with human approval.

For, if we humble ourselves before the Lord, as did Mary, and if we are willing to be used of God however he chooses to use us, and if we walk in the fear (honor, respect, reverence) of the Lord, he will use us in marvelous ways, in ways we would never have imagined, because our lives are submitted to him.

Doubts and Fears

So, perhaps you are here today, where I was many years ago, struggling with what you believe God has called you to do, but discouraged because so many “Christians” are discouraging you from stepping out in faith. Believe God like Mary did.

Be his willing instrument to carry Jesus Christ to the world. Let him lead you. Do what he says. And leave people’s opinions of you to God. Don’t worry about what people are going to think about you or say about you. If your conscience is clear, you are not going against God or his word, but you are doing the will of God, then go with God, like Mary did.

It is amazing what God can do through men and women of God whose lives are surrendered to him, who are willing to be thought crazy, weird, odd, untraditional, hyper-religious, and legalistic, etc. in order to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.

So, don’t limit God or what he can do through you by putting him in a box created in human minds. Mary is a wonderful example for us of how God can work through someone humble, submissive, and obedient to him, who is willing to sacrifice her life for the sake of Jesus Christ and his gospel.

Exalted

Writer(s): C. E. Couchman, M. W. Bassford

Scorned by those who watched;
Mocked by all the wise;
Loved within belief;
Son of God.
Born to take my death;
Slain to give me life;
Jesus Son of God.
Exalted.
Exalted.

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