Advent is a season of anticipation. The prophets foretold of the coming Messiah—God’s Word proved reliable and true. As God’s people, we too, wait expectantly for His return. Our hope is found in what God has done and will do in Jesus Christ to make all things new. (We focused on how to respond to this important part of the gospel story in last week’s post.) Our waiting, our hope, our faith is not passive—it is active.
The Christmas story is one of faith in action.
Mary and Joseph were called to unprecedented acts of faith as they waited on God to fulfill His promises. Much like Noah was called to prepare the ark while waiting for something the world had never known—flooding from rain and salvation through a boat (Genesis 6–7), the young couple took steps of obedience and expectancy while waiting for something the world had never known—a virgin birth to the Savior of the world.
A common refrain in Noah’s story summarized his faith: “Noah did everything just as God commanded him” (Genesis 6:22). We see this same testimony in Mary and Joseph’s story.
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea . . .
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Take a step back from the familiarity and nostalgia of the Christmas story to consider just how remarkable these steps of faith truly were. A young woman and man had to trust God even when it didn’t fit their plans. What God revealed to them didn’t make any more sense back then than it would today. They experienced fear, attempted to understand, considered other options, and even doubt (Luke 1:29–34 and Matthew 1:18–20). Pregnancy and childbirth and parenting included many of the same thoughts, emotions, and practical things to do (or not do). Mary and Joseph were a real-life couple preparing for marriage and handling all of the mundane details of normal, day-to-day life, including things like registering for taxes (Luke 2:1–5). As always, His word proved true, but there were months of waiting and active preparation.
The Christian life is one of faith in action.
Years later, after the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, regular people continued to live by faith, believing the Word of God. One of the early leaders of the Church was James, the younger, half-brother of Jesus—Mary had children with Joseph after the virgin birth (Matthew 12:46; Mark 3:31; Luke 8:19; John 2:12; Acts 1:14). James has some of the strongest words recorded in Scripture, calling all Believers to faith in action.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
Knowing God’s Word is not the same thing as living it out. The Christian life is an ongoing story of the life-changing power of the gospel:
taking up the cross daily to follow Jesus,
taking off the old self and putting on the new,
forgiving as we have been forgiven,
being holy as He is holy,
loving others as He first loved us,
and sharing the Good News that was made known to us.
Share your story.
Christmastime reminds us of seasons of waiting on God’s timing and the unexpected ways He proves faithful. It also reminds us of the steps of faith we must take along the way in normal, day-to-day life.
Mary had to tell her fiancé, Joseph—as scary as that must have been. They prepared for marriage and parenthood. She got to tell her cousin, Elizabeth—as exciting as that must’ve been. They cared for one another during their pregnancies. And though she would treasure these things and ponder them in her heart, she would eventually tell her story—the story of Jesus—to the world through the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Life would never be the same.
You have a story to share with the people in your life too.
Your story is the story of how Jesus is still changing lives today.
Though your testimony is not one of giving birth to the Son of God, every story of salvation and spiritual growth is one of divine grace, being born again through faith in Jesus, and living out your faith in real-life, day-to-day circumstances. The same Holy Spirit that came upon Mary to conceive and raised Christ from the dead is within you now and guarantees your eternal life with Him after death. This fact is no less miraculous and powerful today than it was 2,000 years ago (Romans 6:10–11).
When have you experienced God’s faithfulness through steps of faith?
What has actively waiting on God’s timing looked like in your life?
Whose story has encouraged you?
Who needs to hear your story?
God’s Word is true. Jesus is alive and will come again. You have Good News to tell the world, starting with your closest circle of relationships.
This month’s free resource is How to BLESS People with Your Story. It’s a simple disciple-making tool to help you and the people in your circles of influence identify key points in your story and steps for developing a rhythm of sharing your story in regular conversations as God provides opportunities. If you’re not yet signed up for our newsletter, sign up below to receive your free copy of this downloadable PDF and other free resources in the future.
How to BLESS People with Your Story is adapted from content in two of our group-discipleship resources that introduce and reinforce the rhythm of sharing your story. Free samples are available to preview Rooted: Connect with God, the Church, and Your Purpose and the newly updated Life in Rhythm: God’s Design for Work and Relationships (now available for presale).
Finally, free samples are available for our first Deep Dive study—Theology and the Mission of God: A Call to Faith in Action, a group-discipleship resource that helps Christians grow deeper in their understanding of foundational truths from God’s Word and the practical implications for our daily lives.
Download any of the above resources and feel free to reach out to our team for questions and coaching on what they might look like for developing a culture of storytelling and faith in action in your own local church or small group.