Happy New Year CBC. Many months ago, I put together the monthly worship theme for this time of year. I was reading the scriptures pertaining to these weeks of worship and a theme pushed its way forward: obedience. First (Mark 1:4-11) a man named John the Baptist tells us “be baptized”. Thousands did. Then (John 1:43-51 and Mark 1:14-20) a man named Jesus tells a small group of followers to drop everything and follow him. They do. We are further told to be loving, serve the poor, and listen to God’s voice. We try.
Now obedience is not a popular topic. I, personally, recoil when I hear the word “obey” in wedding vows today even though it was very popular not so long ago. In America we are taught to question authority, deconstruct the establishment, go our own way, and fight the man. What possible good can come from obedience?
Allow me to explain. A class of 30 students is told to study the teachings of Jesus. They are instructed that their grade for the semester will be determined by how well they deconstruct his teaching. In other words . . . they are to find how Jesus contradicts himself within and between the various gospels. Take it from me; this is the type of assignment I was trained to do in my studies before seminary. Nobody ever told me to do this for Jesus; but I could easily do it as an intellectual exercise if I wanted to . . . I don’t. 29 of the 30 students followed the directions perfectly. They were able to compare Jesus love of peace to his actions of tossing the tables in the temple. They demonstrated how Jesus showed compassion to a Roman Centurion even though he knew the soldiers were responsible for slaughtering innocents. But one student couldn’t find any contradictions. Actually he could find contradictions, but he chose not to. He failed the class.
Which were being obedient? The 29 obeyed their teacher. The 1 obeyed God.
I am not . . . I repeat not . . . against intellectual exercise nor deconstruction nor higher education. But what I do believe strongly is that one must eventually decide whom he or she will obey. You actually don’t have a choice about obedience. Those who believe they follow nobody–in fact–follow the myth that they follow nobody. Why? Because there are thousands of them. They are a chaotic rabble who rally behind a false ideal that anarchy would make the world a better place. They are like the 29 who believe they can pull apart everything because everything is wrong. But in fact they were given the assignment and they followed it; they obeyed. Make no mistake; you are always following somebody or something: an ideal, an idol, a person, a God.
So choose today whom you follow and with whom you gather. It is a good way to start 2018. Rededicate yourself to Christ Jesus, and reaffirm your faith. It doesn’t mean that everybody else is wrong but you; it means you know where you belong. And belonging is a powerful force. Let your life be a force for good.