In our culture of social media, Instagram, Facebook, IGTV, and YouTube, we are pressed to believe that if our faith is not celebrity status, it is not really faith. If our faith is not big enough to have followers and likes, then our faith is not enough. If what we do for Jesus isn’t seen on certain platforms, then we need to do more for Jesus. Celebrity status is not the litmus test of a life that loves and knows Jesus. It is not about how much others see of us—it is how much we see of God. Mary is a great example of a life of faith. Before anyone knew her name, Mary knew and saw God.
Mary did not have celebrity status at this point. No one knew Mary, yet Mary knew God. Mary knew God with the depth of her being. She knew God and could say, “Let it be to me according to your word.” She praises God with a song in Luke 1:46–55, proclaiming who he is and what he has done. She sings of his justice, his faithfulness, and his sight of the poor and lowly. She believes and knows that God sees her. God sees Mary, and Mary sees God. No one knew her, but Jesus did.
the gift of quiet
All of this changes very quickly when Jesus is born. King Herod hears the news and wants to find Jesus so he can kill him (Matthew 2:1–18). Mary is now known, and her son is a threat. Can you imagine what it would have been like if others had known Mary’s story at that point? What if they had known of the crazy, miraculous, culturally problematic pregnancy?
Before she and Jesus were known, Mary was given this gift of quiet and a space to deepen in faith. She was given a few months of reflection. A gift before the chaos. In that time she was able to confide in her cousin, lean into her husband, and deepen her praise and wonder of God. That time of anonymity was a gift of space to ponder, to reflect, to praise, and to get ready for what was to come. And what was to come would be widely public and incredibly painful.
We all feel the pull to be seen. We want others to notice us, our gifts, and what we have to offer. At times this can be a selfish pull, and we need to remain humble through confession. As we confess our sin, whether it is pride, selfishness, greed, or something else, God’s grace and mercies meet us. At other times the pull of being seen can be the longing to live as God has called you to live, to have someone notice your gifts, your mind, your heart, and your service. With so much competition, minimization, and comparison in our worlds, we are left unseen. Living a faithful life following Jesus does not have to be done on a stage or on a platform. Your obedience to him is not a show.