Mary’s initial response to Gabriel wasn’t any different than any of us would have responded. Luke tells us she was greatly troubled at the greeting. Another way of saying this would be, she couldn’t believe what she was hearing. What makes me highly favored? What do you mean, the Lord is with me? Mary was struggling with her identity as a beloved child of God. Does that sound familiar?
Mary had heard the lies that God would not and could not love her unless… Unless she kept the Jewish Holy Days, unless she kept the Sabbath, unless she loved God with all her heart, soul and strength, unless she loved her neighbor as herself. Mary, like most good Jews, focused a lot on behavior, attitude, approach and service. She didn’t see herself as special; she didn’t see herself as highly favored. After all, what had she done?
We too hear the “You are not…” lies of the enemy that keep us from believing we are who God says we are – beloved children. The lies point to our failures, our weaknesses, our fears and anxieties, our sin, and they tell us God can’t possibly love someone as wretched as we are. The lies tell us our sins are bigger than God’s forgiveness. They try to convince us that God’s grace is only for a few and his forgiveness depends on our behavior and attitude and approach to him. The lies tell us Christ only died for a few who are called and the rest of the world is outside his grace and love.
Christmas brings a different message. The Son of God entered the world of sinful, wretched humanity because he loves sinners. He became the Son of Man because he knew we were stuck in the “You are not…” lies and the only way to get us to believe we are the highly favored ones is to take all the lies upon himself and show them for what they are. He came because you are highly favored. He took all your sins, weaknesses, fears and anxieties, and failures upon himself. He took them to the cross and destroyed the liar, so that we could believe the truth.
God calls you his highly favored one. You are forgiven. You are adopted. You are included in the communion of the Father, Son and Spirit. You are redeemed. You are reconciled. You are included in his plan. You are loved. Live in the truth of that love.
During the Christmas season, allow the light of the truth to shine in and through you. Ask God to remove any remaining doubt of who you truly are – a beloved child of God. Be the light you were created to be. Share the love that has changed you.
Mary came to see the truth of her participation in God’s plan and she “burst with God-news; she danced the song of her Savior God” (Luke 1:46-55 MSG). “From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me.” (Luke 1:48-49 NIVUK). Her song is your song. You are blessed when you know who you are in Christ. Maybe one day your song of praise will be recorded as a blessing to others.
Jesus, thank you for revealing to me the truth about who you are and about who I am in you. Forgive me for my disbelief; help me to daily grasp the truth of my true identity and live in that truth. As you live in and through me, may your light shine so I have opportunity to help others understand their true identity. Thank you for making me one of your own. The Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is your name.Amen.
Study by Rick Shallenberger
First published on 15 December 2021 in GCI Update Devotionals https://update.gci.org
About the writer:
Rick Shallenberger is a minister in Grace Communion International and Regional Director for North Central, USA. He is also the editor of GCI Equipper.
You are welcome to attend one of our local church congregations located throughout the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation check on our website, www.gracecom.church under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.
Word of Life contact: