And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave [subjected to the authority of a master] of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
I’ve recently finished reading N. T. Wright’s “The Day the Revolution Began” in which he underscores the purpose of Jesus’ crucifixion. In contrast to much of our Western theology that reinforces the concept that Jesus died to save us from hell and to ensure our eternity in heaven, Wright reminds his readers that “It’s not about us.” Jesus’ death, says Wright, was the convergence of heaven and earth, ushering in his new subjects as 1)servants, 2)image-bearers, and 3) worshippers. A far cry from our contemporary “sales pitch.”
So much that we hear from our pulpits, Bible studies, and Sunday schools encourage us to pursue God so that we become transformed and have better lives. As we obey him, love our neighbors as ourselves, do good, and strive to be more earnest, we are blessed and eventually receive the harp, crown, and mansion that have been prepared for us.
But there are so many directives in the New Testament that push us far beyond this self-serving Gospel. Look at Matthew 16:24, ““If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Acts 14:22, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God…” Luke 9:24, “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” Romans 12:2, “Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God-this is your true and proper worship.” Philippians 2:4 “…not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” And Acts 20:35, “It is more blessed to give than receive.” And I could go on…
In Colossians 3:22-24, Paul writes, “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God; And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” In the Old Testament we read that some bondservants—slaves—so loved their masters that they had their ear lobes pierced by an awl indicating they never wanted to leave him and would serve him forever.
When the angel came to Mary, she responded immediately with no caveats, “May it be done to me according to your word…” Mary jumped into God’s will without training or advance warning. She simply said, “Yes.”
Today, we expect God to provide time for us to resolve our issues, develop a rule of life or set of personal disciplines, heal our memories, plan our futures, and fatten our portfolios before we serve HIM, bear HIS image, and worship HIM. Where do Jesus or any of the disciples offer this proviso for servanthood?
Time to grow up and put away childish things. Serve HIM now; bear HIS IMAGE now; worship HIM now.
Father, what a privilege to be invited to participate in your work in the world. Open our hearts and spirits to serve you. AMEN.