Serving God; February 3, 2019

Luke 1:74-75 “…to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.”

It seems to me that Zechariah was one of the many that expected the Messiah to bring them military victory over Rome, but from this point he moves into what God’s plans were really all about. Jesus came to enable us to serve God during our physical lives, preparing us for eternity with Him. Two things about the Japanese translation of this catch my attention. The first is that for grammatical reasons the two verses are blended, so it lists this as “verse 7475.” The second is that this is one of the few places the Japanese Bible uses the character that most Japanese use for “forgive,” illustrating that it doesn’t mean forgiveness at all. It sounds exactly the same, but as it is used here, it means “allow” or “permit.” (The NIV says “enable.”) All of this makes me very aware that our grasp of reality is tenuous at best, whatever we think. If the father of John the Baptist was confused, how confused are we? If the whole Japanese language makes the Gospel opaque, what hope do we have in evangelism? Actually, Francis Xavier said that Japanese was “a language invented by the devil to hinder the spread of the Gospel.” However, those early Catholic missionaries had amazing success, to the point that the Edo government understandably felt threatened. Many of those “conversions” were doubtless political, but many were genuine enough that people chose martyrdom rather than deny Christ. John the Baptist fulfilled his ministry despite his father’s spiritual blindness, and Japanese people are being born again into the family of God despite the obstacles of language and culture.

This makes me consider how I may be misinterpreting what God is doing in and through me. It was less than 20 years ago when it finally got through to me, on a fundamental level, that God’s smart and I’m not. I had always thought that God was smarter than I was, but I somehow thought we were somewhere on the same scale. NOT. I am to receive the understanding He gives me with gratitude and joy, but I am not to presume that I know more than that, much less try to dictate to Him about anything. At least the Bible shows me that many before me have tried to dictate to God, so I’m not alone in my foolishness! I am to rejoice that God desires fellowship with me and live so that nothing interferes with that fellowship. I am to rejoice that God desires to use me, and seek to make full use of every opportunity He gives me to do so. I am to submit my will to His, so that the authority He has given me on this earth as a descendant of Adam and Eve would be exercised to do His will alone, and nothing less.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the various situations in which I am involved right now. I pray that I would be Your agent in each one, indeed serving You in righteousness and holiness without fear or anxiety, so that Your will may be done in and through me for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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