Luke 1:26-27 “In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.”
On many levels, Mary’s personal resume was unimpressive. She was from Nazareth, a town in Galilee. You remember the words that Nathanael once said to Philip about this little town? “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” It had a reputation a little like parts of Appalachia in our country–relatively poor, working class at best, not the most educated people in the world, certainly not the center of society, progress, or power.
Her station in life was a virgin engaged to be married. At least she had lived a respectable life so far. She was a young lady of solid morals and proper self-control. In our time, far too many people would consider that a strike against her. Like most brides-to-be, she probably had big plans for her wedding. Jewish weddings tended to be elaborate celebrations when they could afford it. It doesn’t seem that the wedding turned out quite the way she had been planning it.
Overall, she was an ordinary girl from an ordinary town. Most would expect her to live and die without anyone ever taking notice. No one ever expected her to get her name in a history book or carved on a monument.
But have you noticed that God likes ordinary people for his big plans? What did Paul tell the Corinthians? “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of this world to shame the strong.”
He chooses a shepherd, like David, to be a king. He chooses fishermen, the kind of guys you would see on the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch, to found his religion. He makes them the leading educators, administrators, and promoters of Christianity. He chooses a teenage girl planning her wedding for the awesome task he is about to announce. God likes ordinary people for his big plans.
Do we become too concerned about being extraordinary to serve God’s plans for ordinary people like you and me? God doesn’t care about how high we rise in the eyes of the world. He doesn’t care about greatness in the public eye. Our designs for greatness get in the way for his real plans for us too often. They usually have more to do with our pride than God’s will, and God has no use for prideful people. That’s why hell is full of them.
Or do we fall into an opposite sin? We excuse ourselves from service because we feel we are nothing special. We say something like this (you fill in the blank): “I’m only a …” What was Mary? What was David? What were the disciples? Do you think people would have gotten tongue-tied while meeting them, like some nervous fan who meets a movie star? They were ordinary people who listened to what God told them. Our ordinary status is no excuse for shirking our responsibility when God comes calling and opting out of serving in his plans.
Doesn’t Mary’s very ordinariness underline the truth that God’s plans for her were based on his grace? What the angel was about to tell Mary was a gift, not a paycheck. She hadn’t earned it by distinguishing herself. She received it because God loved her, like he loves us all, without conditions, in spite of our flaws. God’s grace not only frees us from our sins. It qualifies us to serve him. If we understand ourselves properly, it is the only thing that does.