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Responding to the call of God

As Christians, the following two things can be confidently stated about our relationship with Jesus;

  1. We have ALL been given at least one spiritual gift which He expects us to use in the context of the ministry of the local church
  2. He has a plan and purpose for our lives and He calls us individually to faithfully execute that call

The following article by Darrell L. Bock (1996) is an excellent, insightful discussion using the example of Mary as to how to obediently respond to God’s call, thereby enjoying the richest of His blessings.

“The humble setting of Jesus’ birth not only reveals the nature of God’s plan, it also reveals the character of God’s heart. God loves those who are humble in spirit. Even his Son, as the King of Israel, the Promised One of all time, is born of a humble, country maiden. This example of God’s unpretentiousness is an attitude that we as his children should possess. We might expect great things from God and anticipate that he will work through the great in society. But God shows his greatness by working with anyone on the street who is willing to be used by him. Spiritual greatness is not a matter of social class, monetary clout, or degreed background; it is a function of the heart. God’s approach stands in contrast to the type of credentials our world looks for and honours. Externals count for little with him; other issues matter much more. God can do great things through those who entrust the journey with him to his care. That means when God leads, the saint must simply reply, “May it be according to your will.”

This passage suggests four other important lessons: (1) the certainty that God will perform his promise, since nothing is impossible with him, (2) Mary’s example as one chosen to serve God, an example that extends even beyond the willingness to be used to trust God to take us beyond our limitations, (3) the significance of the Virgin Birth of our Saviour, and (4) the importance of sexual faithfulness throughout our lives.

The entire infancy narrative stresses God’s completing his promises, for every short-term promise he made comes to pass exactly as spoken. We can trust God to perform his promises. He will do it at his own time and in his own way, but it will come to pass. If God has such integrity, we as his children should imitate that character and be true to our word. In a culture where lies are often seen merely as “half truths,” this revelation of character is important.

On the other hand, Mary reflects the proper response of anyone who has been called by God with no credentials other than availability and a responsive heart. She is the Lord’s servant, and so are we, if we know him. God’s servants have the right attitude and perspective to accomplish great things for him if they say: “Use me as you will. I will not refrain from serving because I do not feel qualified or usable.” Behind the availability to service is an attitude that trusts God for direction and enablement. God has called all believers to minister to the body (Eph. 4:7–16), and he does not call us to a task he will not prepare us to perform.

With God’s call comes a need to be responsive to his leading. Submitting to God’s will means realizing how that road is best travelled. Service is generally given low ratings in our world; we prefer to have other people serve us. This perspective tends to make us focus on ourselves and, in fact, often subverts one of the activities that can bring the most satisfaction. If God has created us to be his servants and “vice regents” on the earth, as Genesis 1 suggests by saying we are created in God’s image to subdue the earth, then when we simply serve ourselves, we lose an important part of who we are to be.

Furthermore, with God there is no need to have an inferiority complex about how he may use us and what we bring to the task. More than being willing to go where God will take us is realizing that he can help us overcome whatever limitations we bring to the effort. In faithfulness there is spiritual strength. Luke wants us not only to see Mary as the humble mother of Jesus, but also as an example of faith. Just as Elizabeth pictured the one who rejoices in being used of God, so also Mary paints a portrait of going wherever God leads, knowing that he will supply whatever is lacking.”

[Darrell L. Bock, Luke, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996), 60–61.]

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