Sunday, December 2, 2012

"Obedience to God" an essay from "The Greatest Gift: Christmas Devotions from Denver Seminary"

Last year I posted a couple of essays from Denver Seminary’s annual Christmas Devotions that I receive in the mail. This year I am again posting select essays from this devotions book. The first essay that caught my attention was the following written by Dr. Heather Davediuk Gingrich, Associate Professor of Counseling.

December 2
“So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt.” (Matt. 2:14)

“Obedience to God”

Joseph as a remarkable man, but is often relegated to the background in our depictions of the Christmas story. He is always there in the manger scene, but the baby Jesus, his mother Mary, the angels, the shepherds, and the wise men, all seem to be more prominent figures. Yet Joseph is integral to God’s plan for the salvation of humankind.

What kind of person was Joseph? Scripture give some indication of his character and relationship to God. For example, he must have been devastated to find out that his fiancée was pregnant, knowing that he was not the father of the child. His male ego had to have suffered a huge blow. But rather than becoming enraged and retaliating against Mary as other men may have done, “he had in mind to divorce her quietly” because “ he did not want to expose her to public disgrace” (Matt. 1:19)

Although the idea of divorcing Mary was born of compassion, Joseph did not follow through after an angel informed him in a dream that the baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit, was the Messiah, and that he should take Mary home as his wife (Matt. 1:20). Wow! How hard would that message have been to believe? Mary knew that she had not slept with anyone, and had the growing fetus within her body to confirm the angel’s message. But Joseph had to blindly accept that the angle was real and not merely a figment of his imagination, and that the message really was from God. Additionally he had to be willing to face accusations that he had let his lust get the better of  him as well as raise a child who was not his own.

Joseph’s obedience to God continued. When the infant Jesus was in danger of being murdered by Herod, and angel again appeared to Joseph, telling him to escape to Egypt with Jesus and Mary. Without hesitation he got up, gathered his family, and left in the middle of the night (Matt. 2:14). This was a huge move! They left their country, friend, family, and source of income, staying away until Herod died. Later, God spoke to Joseph through angelic messengers in two more dreams, eventually leading them back to Nazareth (Matt. 2:23).

Some of us draw more public attention through our “angelic” singing in choirs and worship teams, or through intelligence or wealth that are reminiscent of the “wise men.” Others are like the shepherds, humble, but managing to be there when something exciting is happening. But may we all strive to be more like Joseph, content to not take center stage, but striving to live in continuing, faithful, obedience to God.

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