Do you measure yourself against other Christians?
Do you ever feel inferior to them?
Do you ever feel like everyone knows more than you about the Bible?
Are there people in your church who appear to be more successful in their faith than you?
Zechariah was a priest and he was in the temple but when an angel appeared there he was really surprised. How strange is that? A leader who people looked up to is in a building where God lived and he is surprised to encounter God’s presence there. The angel told Zechariah that his wife Elizabeth would have a child but Zechariah didn’t believe. They had been trying for a child their whole married life and they had both accepted long ago that they were too old.
Why was Zechariah surprised to encounter God’s presence? It is possible that he had grown resentful of God and that his disappointment at not having a child had eaten away at his faith. He appeared a successful follower of God, he led the people in worship and prayer but his faith was dead and he didn’t believe what God was saying to him.
A few months later, God sent the same angel to a young lady called Mary. She was due to be married and she was surprised when an angel appeared and told her she was going to have a son. Zechariah said no way but Mary confesses her confusion, “how can this happen? I am a virgin.” The angel tells Mary that God was going to miraculously make it possible and so Mary says okay.
If you knew Zechariah and Mary before their encounter with the angel and you wanted to talk about God and what it means to follow him, which one of them would you go to? We would probably be more likely to choose the priest and yet Mary is the one with the living faith, the one whose actions inspire me to have a greater level of faith.
Perhaps you feel like Mary today, a nobody who may not know as much about following God as others do.
Do you know that,
God needs our availability much more than he needs our abilities.
God needs our eagerness much more than he needs our experience.
God needs us much more than he needs our understanding.
Are we open to God working in us and through us?
We need to stop measuring us against other Christians?
Often we use the wrong criteria anyway.
People who can pray really long and eloquent prayers appear more holy but Jesus discouraged people from going on and on in public prayers.
People who are at every church event appear more holy but Jesus was the friend of sinners rather than being just surrounded by saints.
Are we open to God working in us and through us? If so, that is all that God needs and Mary is proof of that.
You can read more about Mary and Zechariah in Luke 1.