He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
I’m often castigated by people for working in an independent school. People think I’ve sold out, and should be teaching “normal” children in a state school. The way some of my friends react to my chosen place of work amazes me. Many would probably be happier if I was out exploiting African farmers than teaching in a fee paying school. I always find it slightly odd. Personally, I believe very much that God has called me into my workplace. Independent schools so often encourage young people to get a well-paid job, which will enable them to get a pretty wife, drive a nice car, and live in a fancy house. I think that Christians, therefore, have a very important role to play in this sort of environment. It is up to us to show these impressionable young minds that there are other ways to live.
To many, the ideas of Christianity are completely counter cultural. Yet this is frequently the message that we get from the Bible. Here, in the words of Mary, we see some specific examples of the kind of behaviour that God endorses, which runs totally counter to the way our world lives. God has scatterered those who are proud, we are told. God knocks down powerful rulers, yet raises up the most humble. God has sent the rich away, whilst providing for the poor. This, then, is the kind of person that God likes; modest, humble, poor people. These are the people who will inherit a place in God’s kingdom, for it is precisely these people who will place God at the centre of their lives, and not let earthly possessions or self importance come between themselves and God. If we choose to worship the stuff that we own, and constantly seek to acquire more, or if we are convinced of our own brilliance, we sideline God, when we should be placing him at the heart of all that we do.
This is a difficult message for us all, especially in rich, western societies. Reflect today on whether you are a modest, humble, poor person, who places God at the heart of everything you do. Or are you someone who prides themselves on their own self-importance, and all the great stuff that your home is filled with?