Illinois Christian Home Educators
The Great Miracle of Radical Christmas Obedience
What we commonly refer to as the "Christmas Story" is filled with miracles, angelic visitations, and radical obedience on the part of the participants. For instance, there were the Wise Men. Even though they lived thousands of miles away from Bethlehem, they made the arduous journey, prompted by the Holy Spirit, to bring precious gifts to honor the King of Kings. Certainly they had a huge caravan, but still, there were many dangers in crossing so much country. The result of this months-long journey? Only a short audience with a Child, before turning around and going on an even further route back home, in order to avoid the wrath of King Herod.
There's little doubt that this entourage made big news in little Bethlehem. Everyone had to be wondering what drew this regal group to the small city. Surely the coffee shops were buzzing! Don't you know it was a real let down when word began to spread that they had come so far to see a mere child. Those who previously spoke in awe and respect of the Wise Men now had sarcastic comments about the insanity of the same group.
Of course, there's Mary, the mother of Jesus. Even though she was thought to be somewhere between 14 and 18, what courage she exhibited in humbly submitting to Gabriel's news of the Immaculate Conception. Surely, she could not have anticipated the fallout for faithfully following the will of God for her life. What would she say to Joseph? To her parents? And yes, to her community.
Then there was Joseph, whom many consider the unsung hero of this supernatural saga. When Mary turns up pregnant partway through the betrothal period and knowing he wasn't the father, Joseph was still unwilling to humiliate her publicly. Even though he had an angelic visitation via a dream to give him direction, what a step of radical obedience in following through! Let's face it, with all the miracles God did for the Hebrews over their famed existence, there was never a time previous when a woman bore a child apart from consummating with a man. Not one time ever! Still, one dream seemed to be enough. Joseph was willing to endure the whispers of the community who were disgusted by what they perceived to be such revolting behavior. They had no idea.
In reading this story to our children this season, it may be tempting to think that we could never be used like this. The Wise Men, Mary, and Joseph made huge sacrifices and demonstrated radical obedience in very tough circumstances in order to be the human elements of this heavenly story. Could we bear the indignation, the shame, or the fear of Herod with such grace?
There is one more act of obedience, which is easy to overlook, because it seems rather insignificant in comparison; however, it is included in the Book of books and is therefore worthy of our examination. All this time, Zechariah had been a mute observer on the sidelines...literally. He had not spoken one word since Gabriel announced the impending birth of a son, whom Zechariah was supposed to name John. When Elizabeth gave birth, the community was there once again to voice their unsolicited advice saying, "He should be named Zechariah in honor of his father." Everyone was shocked when Elizabeth said, "John." This simply wasn't right!
Not to be thwarted in an area that wasn't their business, they turned to Zechariah himself, knowing he would show some common sense. They were equally amazed when he wrote the name "John" on a tablet. The floodgates opened as the Holy Spirit responded to Zechariah's radical obedience by loosing his tongue in praise and exaltation of the Father.
There are many Zechariahs in the homeschooling community today. Like him, you often find yourselves going against the flow of community thinking. Like him, you find yourselves taking the high road of radical obedience when the low road of human sentimentality would be so much easier. Like him, you find it is obeying God in the little things that often release a fresh anointing in your lives.
This Christmas season, ICHE wants to commend each of you for your radical obedience to play your part in God's Big Story. No, you may not be required to make a months long journey, carry a child after an Immaculate Conception, or marry someone who conceived miraculously; however, like Zechariah, you show faithfulness in the decisions of everyday life. This demonstration of God's grace is, perhaps, the greatest miracle of all.
Merry Christmas from ICHE.
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