As the New Year has rolled in, I’ve noticed a new tradition emerging. Rather than vowing to lose weight or spend more time with family, many folks are choosing a theme word for their year, some kind of encouraging thought that can guide them and frame their life.
I can almost see these words on plaques or pillows that we scatter around our homes. (Hobby Lobby, anyone?) Such warm, cozy words that remind us of what we value, what we want more of in our lives.
There is one word, however, that is almost NEVER found on a pillow or plaque. You’re almost guaranteed to never hear a friend announce that she has chosen this word as the theme for her year.
Why? Why don’t we choose it as our Word of the Year? Why do we not like this word?
I think there are a couple of reasons. First, it makes us feel like a kid again…and not in a good way. We remember all the times we didn’t obey and the result was punishment. Who wants to remember that? Second, obedience often is associated with having to do something we don’t want to do because someone else says we have to do it. Translated: we are in a power struggle and we lose. Who wants that?
What would happen, though, if we discovered that this simple word—obedience—had the power to bring us so many other “theme words”? For instance, would you be willing to obey if you knew that joy was the result?
Listen to what Jesus tells us in John 15:9-11:
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
Jesus gives us a very simple formula that goes like this:
OBEY => REMAIN => JOY
Do you want joy in your life? (Of course! Who doesn’t?) Then, according to Jesus, you need to obey. Joy, that deep abiding sense of contentment and delight—even when circumstances stink—is only found when we are obedient people. And doesn’t that make sense? When we are selfishly pursuing our own interests and belittling those around us, gossiping, lying, etc, etc, we are unsettled. We can’t be at peace because we might be found out, we might have to cover our tracks to hide our sin. Obedience to Jesus, on the other hand, allows us to have a clear conscience, to know we’ve done the right thing no matter what happens. Talk about peace. Talk about joy!
So even though it won’t show up on any plaques this year, even though few of your friends will claim this word, will you join me in being people of obedience?