Jeff Bezos runs Amazon. With a current net worth of $59.3 billion, he can afford a few hobbies. One is called Blue Origin, a space travel company that intends to transport people to Mars.
Bezos is competing with Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, and Paul Allen’s Stratolaunch Systems. According to an article on today’s Newsweek website, the goal is to create a population of one million people on Mars within the next twenty-five years. By 2040, if they succeed, Mars will be the next Earth.
I understand the appeal. Jihadist terrorism dominates the news daily. Volatile oil prices dominate the economy. The Paris Agreement may improve the climate or make things worse. ISIS recently killed thirty-eight children with Down’s Syndrome or congenital deformities. It’s easy to be discouraged today.
What challenges are you facing this morning? I’d like to suggest an encouraging principle I just discovered.
I’m reading through 1 Chronicles in my personal Bible study. Chapter 20 tells of battles between the Philistines and King David’s forces. Verse 6: “And there was again war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number, and he also was descended from the giants.” A Philistine giant at war with Israel—sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Here’s what happens: “And when he taunted Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea, David’s brother, struck him down” (v. 7). Just as David had defeated Goliath, so David’s nephew defeated this Philistine giant. What his uncle had done, he was able to do.
As I read the story, this principle struck me: When we face challenges, we should look to those who have done what we are called to do. When we follow their example, one day others will follow ours.
Let’s apply this principle to the cast of Christmas. Mary was called to become the mother of the Son of God. Barring miraculous intervention, her best outcome was that her fiancé would “divorce her quietly,” as Joseph in fact decided to do (Matthew 1:19). He could have her charged with adultery and executed. But she responded to the call of God: “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
Now consider Joseph, Mary’s fiancé. If he married this pregnant woman, he risked his reputation in a culture where reputation was essential to his career and future. But “he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him” and made Mary his wife (Matthew 1:24).
The shepherds who came to the first Christmas lived on the lowest rung of their social ladder. They could not testify in court, for they were assumed to be thieves and liars. They could not attend services in a synagogue or at the temple. But when they met the infant Son of God, “the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen” (Luke 2:20). They risked the rejection of their society to witness to the Christ.
And the wise men traveled for two years across 800 miles to worship the Child. They risked their resources, time, and even their lives in response to the invitation of God.
What will it cost you to be faithful to God today? Your resources? The possible rejection of those with whom you share the gospel? Your reputation? Even your life? Look to the cast of Christmas, and follow their example. Then, one day, others will follow yours.