Christine Caine gave the Mother’s Day sermon at Willow Creek Church two years ago. Her message was a bold one: All of us are called, similar to Mary the mother of Jesus, to carry God to our generation.
Caine refers to Luke chapter 1 in her sermon, asking the audience to consider the woman who was chosen to carry Jesus (God made flesh) for nine months. “How do you choose who gets to carry God?” Caine asks.
Through our own unique lives and the callings God has placed on those lives, Caine argues, we are all asked to do something similar. While Mary did this in a very literal sense, as Christ-followers, “all of us are responsible to bring God to our generation,” Caine says.
She then goes on to pull three key lessons we can learn from Mary and the incredible calm with which she embraces God’s instructions and seemingly unwaveringly walks out God’s plan for her life.
Lessons on answering our calling we can learn from Mary
1. You don’t have to be extra-ordinary for God to use you
Mary was not a person of notoriety or influence and yet God chose her. Caine indicates there may be one thing that set her apart from others because we can assume she was used to hearing God’s voice and obeying it. How else would she have been able to say “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” when the angel Gabriel told her she would conceive and bear Jesus? The point Caine is driving at is that God uses anyone, anywhere who is willing. Our circumstances don’t dictate our futures or the things that God can do with us.
Caine emphasizes that God’s favor “is for purpose—it’s not for status.” Like Mary, we are to humbly accept the assignment given to us and use whatever favor we receive to fulfill the purposes of God. The question we are grapple with is: Are we willing to grow with what God has put inside of us?
2. Do not fear
When Gabriel came to Mary, he greeted her heartily, calling her “favored one.” But Mary was frightened and tried to figure out “what kind of greeting this might be.” Gabriel had to convince her his presence was nothing to be afraid of and told her “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” How many of us cower in fear when faced with something we don’t understand?
Caine says, more than anything else, “the greatest enemy to our potential is fear.” The enemy likes to attack us at the transition junctures of our lives. She gave the example of Moses arguing with God about answering his call to go back to Egypt to bring the Israelites out of slavery. Our fear will stop us from answering the very thing God ordained for us to do with our lives.
3. We have to be willing to take risks and pay the price
In conclusion, Caine asks the congregation if they are willing to pay the price to carry Jesus to your generation? Going back to Mary, Caine says she had to give up her reputation and potentially her relationship with Joseph to answer God’s call. She couldn’t have known when Gabriel came to her how her circumstances would play out.
We have to be willing to risk in order to do what God designed for us to do. We also have to be willing to pay a high price. This is difficult for us, Caine reasons, because we’re trained not to take risks. But by Caine’s reasoning, there is no need to fear things like death, since everyone is going to die. What should be more fear-inducing to us is not living the life God has called us to live.
Caine’s message is a good reminder to all of us, whether we are mothers or not, to embrace the risky calling God has given us and to carry Jesus to our generation.