Have you ever played the game Taboo with your family? In this game, you try to get your teammates to guess a word on a card by giving them verbal clues. All the while, you must avoid the use of five forbidden “taboo” words.
I suspect that if you were trying to get people to guess the word “obedience,” “joyful”wouldn’t be one of your clues.
Can you remember a time when obeying your parents, a teacher, or another authority figure seemed joyful? Despite having wonderful parents, I don’t recall ever associating joy with obedience.
Today, as a parent, I don’t recall seeing the pairing of joy and obedience very often in my children either! Yet joyful obedience is exactly what God asks of us.
Throughout the Bible we read that we are to walk in obedience to what God commands and take delight in doing so. I like how this is phrased in the contemporary testimony Our World Belongs to God: “As covenant partners, set free for joyful obedience, we offer our hearts and lives to do God’s work in the world” (para. 6).
This describes us, the Christian Reformed Church in North America. Despite our unworthiness, God has covenanted with us, providing us salvation through his Son and empowering us with his Spirit to serve him — a form of obedience designed by God! With gratitude for the new life of freedom we have in Christ, we can respond with joy — in obedience to God’s will for our lives.
As we consider our work as a denomination, we might ask ourselves, “Have we been obedient? Have our actions been a joyful and loving response to our God, who first loved us?” I believe the answer to these questions is a resounding yes!
The following pages describe the joyful obedience we display as a denomination. They include our response to the five callings we’ve identified as part of our Christian Reformed identity: faith formation, servant leadership, global mission, mercy and justice, and gospel proclamation and worship.
They also include statements about the progress we’ve made in our joint ministry plan, Our Journey 2020.
My hope is that as you review these pages, your heart will be gladdened. Moreover, my prayer is that as we review together the joyful service to which God has called us, we will be eager to proclaim together the words closing that same section of Our World Belongs to God: “We are confident that the light which shines in the present darkness will fill the earth when Christ appears. Come, Lord Jesus. Our world belongs to you” (para.6).
Steven Timmermans, CRCNA executive director