Christmas is undoubtedly a time of great cheer and celebration. It's interesting to note, however, that before the Christmas story began, the situation was one of challenge and great trial for two people who had stepped out in faith to believe in a spoken promise and whose faith resulted in the salvation of all mankind.
Imagine you're a 12- to 14-year-old girl who had just been visited by an angel telling you that you would be giving birth and raising the son of God even before you and a man named Joseph would come together in marriage. How would you respond?
Mary's first response was fear and doubt. Her reputation, marriage, sanity and even her very life itself was on the line. Mary was born in a time when pregnancy before marriage was considered a crime punishable by death. Luke 1:29 says, "But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be."
Just like Mary, and even Joseph, we can sometimes be faced with intimidating trials. Although our troubles may not measure up to hers, the fear that tries to creep in is real. It's the fear of losing face and reputation, of what people would say and what people would do to us. Many times when God calls us to His purposes, the first thing that will get challenged is our reputation. That's because God's ways always go beyond man's comprehension, challenging both us and society.
Reputation Is Not as Valuable as We Think It Is
Too often we worry about what people might think of us. This can be a good response at times, but it can also be a debilitating one in many occasions. Reputation matters, but not as much as we might often act like it does. Reputation, for one, is not more important than purpose
In Matthew 16:24, Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."
Jesus knew how often reputation may come weighing against seeing God's purposes fulfilled, and that's where He encourages us to step out in faith.
Faith Is Necessary
It takes faith to set aside saving face before people to save face before God. But in the end, we know it's God's opinion that matters most, and that if we please Him first, everything else will just follow. If we take care of our reputation in God's eyes, He will take care of our reputation in people's eyes.
That's what it was like for Mary and Joseph. They could have chosen a different path. They could have said "no" to God's will. They could have decided to live a normal life and have a normal marriage, but they chose to lay down a normal reputation at God's feet and call Him to have His way.
What began with despair and fear turned into humble trust towards God's greater plan when in Luke 1:39, Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."