I've seen multiple people over the past year post about their annual theme words. Last year, I chose the word "bold." I certainly made some bold decisions and shared more of myself than I knew was possible. Through trial and error, I grew. God is creating something in me that I did not even know existed...someone who loves to teach His Word.
This year, I gave this much thought. I spent time in prayer asking God what He wants of me for 2017. The word that has been consistently on my heart is "shalom." One of the books I read last year, Not the Way It's Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin by Cornelius Plantinga Jr., defines shalom as "universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight...the way things ought to be." God created this world to be peaceful, for us to be in perfect relationship with him. So, what destroyed it? Well, if you've ever even heard of the Bible, I'm sure you know about Adam, Eve, the serpent and the eating of the forbidden fruit. In that one act of disobedience, sin entered this world and destroyed the shalom, the world as God intended.
So, let's talk about sin for a minute... (Don't close the browser, I promise this isn't going to be filled with finger-pointing...except at myself) When I lead worship on a Sunday morning more focused on myself and the music than I am on God, that is sin. When I yell at my children or disrespect my husband with sharp words, that is sin. When I glare at the person who is trying to cut me off in the middle school drop off line (happened this morning, by the way), that is sin.
We often think of the big ones...murder, adultery, stealing...but sin is anything that hinders our relationship with God and destroys our shalom, whether that be inner or external peace. In the examples above, I am not peacefully worshiping when I am focused on self. When I am harsh with my husband or children, our relationships are, at the very least, momentarily damaged. The man in the drop off line, well, who knows if he even cares. But regardless of his knowledge of who I am, as a Christian, I am to shine the light of Christ not shoot daggers from my eyes.
Four days into the new year, I am realizing that this is going to be a larger task than I had originally anticipated. Even still, what I have been praying is that God will reveal sin in my life in order to restore as much shalom as possible. What I have also come to realize is that will only go so far. Turns out, I am surrounded by others who also have sin natures. And, I cannot control the actions of others. What??? Earth shattering news, I know. My only option is to choose how to respond to them. Clearly, I did not choose well this morning.
In order for this to become my reality, I must live by the words of John the Baptist, "He must become greater, I must become less" (John 3:30). Although John was speaking of himself in relation to Jesus, I must desire for God's will to become greater and mine to align with His.
So, how about you? Do you do a theme word?