desert(Matthew 2:13-23)

John Kotter discovered that even when organizations have plans to make changes that will help them, about 70% don’t do anything. About 10% organizations with plans experience great success.

The difference between the 70% and the 10%? A sense of urgency. If change doesn’t happen, the 10% believes, their organization will suffer. The 70% have plans, but they are comfortable.  They are unconvinced that their organization is at risk.

In the passage above, Joseph understood urgency. Herod was killing babies and Jesus was a baby. What dad wouldn’t run?

Except that when Joseph headed for Egypt, Herod wasn’t doing anything. The only data Joseph had about a problem was that an angel showed up in a dream and warned him to leave. But Joseph now follows what he dreams. He learned from his first dream that when an angel says it, it matters, it is urgent.

Joseph follows each step of the instructions as they are revealed. Each step requires a fresh infusion of information and encouragement from God. Because at each step, there is tremendous risk. Life has urgency for Joseph and so he follows what God says.

We have great plans to follow Jesus. At the beginning of the year we want to read the Bible more and pray more and understand more. At the beginning of the year we resolve to be kinder and more loving. We resolve to obey God as much as we can.

Unfortunately, if our only motivation is sense of obligation and opportunity at the new year, we will fail. Because changing is hard.

The only reason that Joseph and Mary and Jesus became homeless political refugees is that doing otherwise meant death. God and Herod said so.

The difference between Jesus followers and Jesus hobbyists? Followers know that doing otherwise means death.

[photo credit Becky McCray]