Called To Greatness
by Stephanie Olson, Co-founder Set Me Free Ministries
My pastor asked me to share a teaching on Mary this past Sunday. Christmas used to be my favorite holiday; however, I confess that as a busy mom and a woman in the ministry, I can get overwhelmed by the busyness of it all. The 5 billion Christmas programs, the commercialism, and the endless shopping are sometimes more than I can take. But as I prepared for my message, I was able to, once again, study the true Christmas story in detail and rediscover my love for Christmas. It has nothing to do with the hustle and bustle of the season, Santa Claus, or even giving gifts to others. It is all about an incredible gift given to us, one we don’t deserve, but one given with a love we can’t comprehend. A gift that only 33 years later would provide the only way to salvation. And to give this magnificent gift, God used an insignificant girl and called her to greatness. Here is an excerpt of that message
Luke 1:26-38 shares an incredible story of a remarkable calling—the calling of a young, teenage girl who was chosen to bear the Messiah. Here was a girl who the Bible tells us in verse 28 was “highly favored and blessed among women.” She was a woman of righteousness. She was a woman of humility. And we see that in Mary’s song in Luke 1:46-49 when Mary sings this: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.” Mary recognized that she was answering a call to greatness. It wasn’t because of anything she had done, but because the Mighty One had done great things for her.
Take the time to read this beautiful story. I mean really read it. So often we can read something so many times that we don't really read it anymore. Read it and put yourself in Mary's shoes. What might she be feeling? Imagine her emotions! Mary walked her calling with an amazing humility, a dedicated obedience, and an unwavering trust.
What does Mary’s story tell us today? What if I told you that all of us are first called to relationship with Jesus Christ. If we answer that call with a yes, we are then called to greatness; if you are in Christ, you are called to greatness. I know some of you might be thinking, Yes, no doubt. I know I’ve been called to greatness. Yet, there are some of you that are thinking, Not me. I’m just called to live a normal life working and raising my kids. And then there might even be some of you thinking, Not me. I can’t possibly be called to greatness. I’m insignificant.
Ephesians 4 tells us to “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.” We are all called to greatness. It’s not just insignificant girls like Mary who were called. No, it’s insignificant people like you and me. We are all called. But remember, greatness in God’s economy looks much different than the world’s. We must “walk worthy” of the call as Ephesians tells us. What does that mean?
Mary was a woman who was called “highly favored.” Why? She lived a righteous life. God is calling us first to live lives of righteousness. Mary wasn’t sinless, but she walked worthy of her calling. She honored God and followed Him. God calls every one of us to turn away from our sin and turn toward Him.
Mary displayed three very definitive attributes that we all must demonstrate to be great in the Kingdom of God: humility, obedience, and trust.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:4, “Therefore, whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Now, humility can often get misconstrued in the world. Humility doesn’t mean that you walk around telling everyone how unimportant you are. It’s not playing the martyr. It’s not feeling bad about yourself. Andrew Murray, a Christian author, teacher, and pastor from the 1800s says this about humility: “Humility, the place of entire dependence upon God, is from the very nature of things the first duty and the highest virtue of His creatures.” You see, humility is dropping your pride and saying, “God, I can’t do this on my own, it’s Yours. I’m not capable without Your strength, Jesus.”
Answering the call to greatness requires obedience. Now, I have to tell you that God isn’t about what is logical in the world’s eyes. He can take what seems absolutely ridiculous, absurd, and illogical and say, “This is what I want you to do so you can Glorify Me.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 says, “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.”
And then there’s trust. We can’t make an impact on the Kingdom of God without having trust in Him. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” We have to trust Him even when it doesn’t make sense. What the Lord asked of Mary made no sense whatsoever. It was scary and sounded crazy. Yet Mary’s response was, “Let it be to me according to your word.” Okay, God, I don’t understand, but you see the big picture, and I don’t, so I will trust You and be obedient.
Mary was called to greatness. What made Mary great was that she would have been humble, obedient, and trusting to God even if He had not chosen her to bear the Messiah. And if you and I are in Christ, we are called to greatness. If you are reading this today and don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ, if you don’t know Him as your personal Lord and Savior, you can have that relationship today. It's accepting that gift that God provided, turning away from your sins, and turning toward Christ. Jesus wants a relationship with you.
If you have a relationship with Christ, you have been called to greatness. Not fame, fortune, or power, but greatness in the Kingdom of God by living our lives worthy of our calling—by humbly loving and serving others, by being obedient to whatever He has called you to do, and by trusting Him to walk with you every step of the way. We are all called to greatness. Will you answer the call?