God’s Kindness to Us

10 Dec

We have all heard people talk about Jesus and why you should become a Christian in a way that made it sound as if knowing Jesus and becoming a Christian would somehow magically make your life so much easier from that point on.

There’s even a name for this kind of talk about Jesus.

It is so popular and prevalent.

They call it the prosperity gospel and the basic idea that comes across in this so-called gospel is that following Jesus will somehow solve all the problems you might have in life immediately if you just have enough faith and yet, it’s clear, even reading this story about the birth of Jesus, that is just not true.

We don’t even have to look at the death of Jesus to see the prosperity gospel is not true.

We can just look at the birth of Jesus.

A relationship with Jesus can cause a lot of problems for you in this life.

I mean, just think about what happened with Mary.

While in a lot of ways I am sure the announcement of Jesus’ birth must have seemed pretty exciting.

Having an angel like Gabriel show up and announce you are going to give birth to the Messiah is pretty amazing, obviously, but at the same time, the truth is for Mary, this announcement was going to create some very real problems in her life.

Like the fact, hardly anyone would believe it.

I mean, she was a virgin.

And she was going to have a baby.

And you can imagine what something like that would have done to her reputation in her community.

Because that just didn’t happen.

Normally.

Virgins.

Having children.

In fact, it has happened only once in the history of the universe.

And she’s the first.

And the last.

Which meant, her reputation was going to be in trouble.

No question.

For her whole life, there was going to be a big old question mark above her head.

Not just her reputation though.

Even her life.

Was going to be turned upside down.

This baby was going to put her in a very precarious and vulnerable position, because the man she was supposed to marry would have had the right to divorce her. That’s the way it worked, which would have brought shame to Mary and to her whole family as well.

Obviously.

It might even have put them in a financially difficult spot as well, because they would have had to return the price Joseph had paid for her and technically, the fact is Joseph not only had the right to divorce her, he may even have had the right to put her to death.

So this is serious.

And while fortunately of course we know that didn’t happen, the fact of the matter is, what did actually happen to Mary once she had this baby, made her life more difficult just the same.

Pretty much from beginning to end.

Mary’s relationship with Jesus, even though she had all kinds of faith, didn’t always make her life much easier in the moment.

You can think about where she had to have the baby as an illustration of that.

You might have thought God would have wanted Jesus to be born in a really fancy place, but obviously he didn’t. Because Mary ended up having to ride a donkey all the way to Bethlehem which couldn’t have been very comfortable as a pregnant woman and then since, when they got there, there was no room in which they could stay, she had to give birth to Jesus right next to where they kept the sheep and the cows.

And after he was born, things didn’t get much easier, either.

Because of Jesus, she had to flee with her husband to Egypt and live there as refugees, and we know how hard that is, and while we don’t know much about Jesus’ childhood, pretty much the one time we do know about, Joseph and Mary had to take three extra days off to search for Jesus going all the way back to the temple in Jerusalem to find him after they had already been there and left.

It wasn’t always easy, for them, this relationship with Jesus, they certainly seemed worried then, and Mary would be worried about Jesus later when he grew up and began his ministry as well.

In fact, there were occasions when Jesus was so busy helping others, he didn’t have time to eat and that of course would have concerned Mary since she loved him, and then there’s the way Jesus died in the end. This was her son, you remember, and there’s nothing harder than losing someone you love, and Mary had to watch him die in the worst way possible, she had to watch him be crucified.

Imagine the pain of that.

I know, we are so far removed from these things, that, it sometimes doesn’t sound as hard to us, as it probably actually was, but the fact is, in some ways, Mary’s relationship to Jesus made her life more difficult.

Even though she had faith.

Which, can make, I think, what the angel says to her in Luke 1, verse 30, sound a little surprising.

That’s the thing.

He says,

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

 And behold, you will conceive and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.”

And the reason I think that statement can sound a little surprising is because the angel is looking at the very event that was going to turn Mary’s life upside down the way I have described and was going to create all kinds of problems for her, and yet he’s saying that very event, the fact that she is going to conceive and give birth to this baby Jesus, was in fact, a demonstration and proof of God’s love for her and a reason why she shouldn’t be afraid.

 “Do not be afraid, Mary.”

 That’s what he says.

 “For you have found favor with God.”

 And how do I know that?

 “And behold, you will conceive and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.”

 In the angel’s mind, this is what I want you to see, the way the angel looks at it, is that this person Jesus, was so significant and so important that a relationship with Him, that playing any part in what God was doing through Him, was so valuable it would far outweigh any of the difficulties that might come as a result.

Shameful reputation.

Relationship with Jesus.

You are favored.

Financial difficulties.

Living like a refugee in fear for your life.

Relationship with Jesus.

You are favored.

Worry, concern, the pain of watching someone you love die, right in front of you.

Relationship with Jesus.

Don’t be afraid.

You are favored.

In the angel’s eyes, Jesus was that important, that significant, that a relationship with Him was worth any cost.

I think sometimes we look at our lives and feel sorry for ourselves, but if we know Jesus, that’s a privilege beyond belief.

What makes being a Christian so awesome, what makes being a Christian such a demonstration of God’s grace, is not that knowing Jesus and having this relationship with Him makes our life *always so much easier right now immediately.

That’s not the good news.

It wasn’t the good news for Mary.

It isn’t the good news for us.

What makes knowing Jesus such an act of God’s kindness for us is JESUS.

It’s that we get to know JESUS.

(*Obviously, knowing Jesus does make our life easier in some important ways, but it doesn’t make our life easier in every way, and in fact, in some ways makes it more difficult as well.)

 

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One Response to “God’s Kindness to Us”

  1. MvdM April 11, 2017 at 3:55 pm #

    God is good all the time.

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