I have been doing an Advent meditation on the life of Joseph, husband of Mary and earthly father of Jesus. This morning’s readings were on obedience and strangely I had already written an outline for an email on this topic. They say timing is everything and I realised that the timing for this email is now. I have always loved the character of Joseph and have spoken in churches and at men’s breakfasts on Joseph as a model man, so this is very much in my heart.
As I merge two sets of thoughts, I am going to take you back to 1995. This was the era of the Toronto Blessing and the release of spiritual anointing. As a fairly new Christian, just out of Bible College, this was a very exciting time with lots of things happening. Out of the blue our Associate Pastor preached this message which can be summed up very succinctly, which is why I have never forgotten it. The punch line is this; if God asks you to do something the answer is either, “Yes Lord”, or just plain “No!” There is no such thing as “No Lord” if you are under authority, because if the answer is no, then He is not your Lord.
The culture we live in is all about “self”. We are taught to be your own person, seek your own destiny, and you can do anything. It is so easy to get wrapped up in that mentality and try and fit it into our theology, but is that okay? When we come back to scripture, we find that Joseph was a great example. A man under God’s authority, an obedient man, who when God asked something of him, he said, “Yes Lord”. Many of his tasks required great courage; He was asked to marry Mary who was with child in a way he probably didn’t really understand. This was a decision that was culturally going to open himself and Mary up to public derision because his community had no understanding of what was taking place. But he said, “Yes Lord”.
God told Joseph to move his family at very short notice on a number of occasions when Jesus was young, some for the child’s safety and others to do with prophecy. I love this quote from my Rejoice Advent Meditations, “Joseph only discerns the what, so he can discern the who. Once Joseph knows it is the voice of God, his only answer is yes. He is obedient to the person not just the task.” I find that an inspiring statement, and given our present culture where obedience is not as valued as it once was, it’s a challenging one.
I come back to my original outline now with this scriptural quote from John 15:14-15 where Jesus is speaking to his disciples and says,
14 “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
Now I want to be a friend of Jesus. With this simple statement from Jesus, I realise the emphasis of obedience is expressed in verse 14. To be a friend of Jesus it must be “Yes Lord”, not no. Is God asking you to do something that at present you are not? I encourage you this Christmas to read the first chapters of the gospels Matthew and Luke and soak in the example of Joseph to draw strength from his journey as a friend of God, a quiet achiever, a man to be emulated.
May you be richly blessed this Christmas.