Many of you would have heard that Christianity is not a “religion”, but a “relationship” with God. Even those who hold to a different understanding of the word “religion” (James 1:27) would agree that the heart of Christianity itself is relationship with God (John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20). This is the one and only relationship which each of us can discover the truths about why we were created, who we were created to be, what we were created for, and how we can enter, live and grow in that life that is truly glorious, reflective of the Creator God Himself, who is good, holy, loving and wondrous.
However, many of us would have also realised that experiencing and delighting in the life-restoring relationship with God can be overtaken by many things in our daily living, even the good things (Luke 10:38-42). And with the unfolding of each such days, experiencing and delighting in that life-giving closeness and joy with God can get pushed back further and further, like losing the heartening proximity and companionship of the treasured friend whom we have been walking with side by side, but whom we have now lost sight of.
This was also the experience of the children of Israel whom God delivered and journeyed with (Exodus 13:21), including with their generations. In their ups and downs, twists and turns, God kept reaching out to them, even using His prophets to take on symbolic acts to illustrate their situation and to instruct them. Although you may not equate Mary as one of those prophets, like Hosea, you can however find the help you need by following why God sent our Saviour, Redeemer and Lord first as a Baby, to be cared for by Mary, as His mother.
When the angel declared to the shepherds that God has sent them a Saviour, it would not be unreasonable for them to expect a fully grown Saviour, ready to act with great abilities and might. It seems dissonant to their situation that God would add to their burden by sending the Saviour as a Baby, whom they now need to care for instead. Yet, in giving Jesus to them as a Baby first, God was giving them a diagnosis and the start of the cure they needed. The diagnosis was, they had lost their First Love for God. The cure for recovering their First Love is in how a mother would set aside all other priorities, even changing the patterns of her daily living, so as to love and tend to her baby first, above all others, including herself. This first love is what would later enable Mary to follow God all the way. This is the First Love we too need to recover and nurture, so as to follow God all the way.
Would you let God help your relationship with Him? What are the priorities and the patterns in your daily living you would need to change so that you can give your First Love attention to the Lord? What could motivate you to make those changes? For Mary, it was that love a mother would give to her Baby, first and foremost. By His Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37-40), God calls us to this First love too.
Rev. Joseph Goh