The Business of Obedience
“And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, . . .” Matthew 1:24
When we meet Joseph in Matthew’s gospel, he is completely confused about what to do about Mary’s unexplainable pregnancy. He is tense, perplexed and in total internal conflict. He’s scratching his head wondering and wrestling with what to do next. Joseph is unable to make sense of it. This should give each of us hope. Because, if there’s room for Joseph beside the manger, there is room for you and me there too.
The story doesn’t end with Joseph wondering what to do, rather, we are given a glimpse into the faith of this man. His faith is not some religious abstract faith, but a deep inner trust in the promises of God, a living, growing, dynamic relationship with God.
Joseph is proof that honest doubt is an essential element of a growing faith. Joseph shows us we don’t need to have all our questions answered before we find our place in the gospel. Being a follower doesn’t mean we have everything figured out, it does mean that we continue to trust in the confusion and as we learn more about Him, we learn more about us and, in the process, our questions will find their own answers.
The key to this story is verse 24, Joseph obeyed. He took Mary as his wife and took Jesus as his own, taking his place in a long line of those for whom faith is not just a mental exercise, but something you do with your feet. It was not just about affirming a set of creeds or beliefs, but about the way in which life is lived. Joseph’s faith was born out of obedience.
Obedience calls for a radical reorientation which results in a new behavior. Obedience means taking action based on what we believe God is doing and will accomplish in the future. It means acting in accordance to Jesus’ kingdom reality. Obedience makes us nothing short of being participants in God’s spread of salvation to others. When we obey we discover that it’s true.
In what ways has the coming of Jesus changed your plans and the focus of your life? Make a list.
What’s the connection between faith and obedience?
What steps do you need to take to live a more obedient life?
What keeps you from taking those steps?