Read Matthew 1:15-2:25
What are you willing to risk to be part of God’s mission?
That’s not the question you usually get asked at Christmas, is it? Maybe you have more on your mind in this season than how you will fulfill God’s mission.
Christmas is about God’s mission to bring the Savior into the world, to save the world. He chose some ordinary people—people like you and me—to do their part. And it was not easy.
Joseph is a good example. Here’s an ordinary young man, a carpenter engaged to be married, and God tips his world upside-down. He finds out his fiancée is pregnant. And let’s face it, he’s probably struggling to accept her explanation that it’s the work of the Spirit of God! Or to believe that the baby is the promised Messiah.
He’s in a tough spot. He knows what could happen to Mary, but he also knows that it won’t reflect well on his character or reputation either. People will talk; they’ll assume this untimely pregnancy is his fault. Our “anything goes” approach today makes it hard for us to really understand his predicament. He and Mary would both face ridicule, gossip, harsh judgment from their community, even death.
Joseph doesn’t rush into action. And in this pause, God calls him into the mission. An angel of the Lord tells him, “Don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife.” Don’t be afraid to serve as the earthly father for Heaven’s Son. Don’t be afraid—this IS the one promised to save Israel and all His people.
And Joseph obeyed. He took the risk; a risk to his reputation, to his honor among family and friends, to his livelihood. A just and honorable man, Joseph steps onto the path God sets before him and sees it through. Even later, a long way from home and with a baby in his arms, he listens to God again and removes his family from those seeking to kill the child.
Risk-taking obedience is required of those who choose to follow Jesus, who listen to the voice of God and step into His mission to the world. It’s a risk that can cost us our comfort, our security, our reputation, our family, our livelihood, even our lives.
Yes, obedience is risky, but God is good. Taking part in His mission may not look like the life you planned, but He is faithful to His people. Ask those who’ve risked even their lives for the sake of Jesus. They speak of joy and peace and fulfillment despite the hardship, the loss, the struggle. They understand what Joseph learned—that it’s worth every risk to be part of God’s work to bring the hope of salvation to a waiting world.
- What do you think God has asked you to risk in obeying Him? Are you eager to listen to His voice or afraid to take the next step?
- How have you seen God work in and through you when you’ve taken a risk to obey?
- How will you encourage others to willingly risk all for the mission of Christmas?
–Barbara Gerhart, Global Disciples