Obedience is rarely easy – or am I just particularly rebellious, writes Elaine Duncan, chief executive of the Scottish Bible Society. Responding positively to God’s call on our lives can take us out of our comfort zones and into areas beyond our control. If we are prepared to take God seriously then life becomes a real adventure – and that can be scary as well as exciting. As we consider the birth narrative of the Lord Jesus again this Christmas may it inspire us to ask again ‘God what do you want me to do with my life?’
One of the delights of the Christmas story is that it all seems so improbable. The key players are pretty unremarkable in their social status and ability to influence. In terms of a strategic plan to bring salvation to lost people it seems quite weak and potentially ineffective. The risk factors of it all going horribly wrong are off the scale. And yet…
Last month I had the privilege of visiting South Korea and China, at the invitation of the Korean Bible Society. The link between the church in Korea and in Scotland is strong. In the 1880s John Ross, from Easter Ross, was a missionary in northeast China. He befriended Korean traders, learned their language, translated Luke and John’s gospels into Korean and sent them into Korea via his friends. When missionaries arrived in Korea they found Christians, because of these gospels. The church in South Korea has been one of the fastest growing in the world.
When John Ross responded to God’s call to China he was taken out of his comfort zone. His obedience held many risks for him and his family. He was convinced people needed the Bible because it leads them to Jesus and he was prepared to follow God’s call.
We rightly wonder at the (eventual) obedience of Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the magi. Steps of obedience, whether small or big, bear fruit as God does his amazing work of building the Kingdom of His Son in the power of the Holy Spirit.
What is God asking of you and your life? Will the inspiration of the Bible characters and someone like John Ross give you confidence to throw yourself into the adventure of obedience to God? Who is God calling you to share your story with, give a gospel to, pray for and care for sacrificially? People need Jesus because he is the source of life and the Saviour of the world.
Wishing you a very happy Christmas and a fruitful New Year,