When I ask you to describe a prophet to me, what do you think of? Is it a man (the word tends to conjure up visions of male personalities), long white beard, flowing robes and an unpronounceable name, proclaiming words of gloom and doom? That image seems to come right out of our Old Testament. People with names like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Nehemiah, Zechariah, Zephaniah (that's a lot of iah's) Or do you see a prophet as a person standing on a street corner wearing tattered clothes and a sandwich board that says “The End is Near”? That image is the thing many think of when they think modern day prophets. It's the stuff of cartoons.
According to a recent report from the BBC News, inhabitants of a village in northern Nigeria are celebrating the renaming of their village. The old name of the town was “Area of Idiots.” Wonder why they wanted to change it? “Area of Idiots.” The new name of the village is “Area of Plenty.” I believe you will agree with me that’s an improvement.
The local emir announced the name change after residents complained that they had been mocked for years because of that name and were ashamed to tell people where they came from. “It was shameful telling people outside I come from ‘Area of Idiots,’” said one resident.
The village, in Kano state in Nigeria, gained its initial name about 70 years ago when people settled close to a river known as the Idiotic River. It is not clear why the river has that name.
How many of your New Year’s Resolutions have made it intact through the first full week of 2021? Have you missed a day of exercise yet? Have you stuck to your diet? Are you texting less, communicating more, never gossiping, always telling the truth? Most “resolutions” we make are self-directed: things like get thinner, work smarter, be stronger, take control of your life. We want to make changes that will help us, improve us and bring us good feelings about ourselves.
What if instead of trying to live resolutions that make us feel good about ourselves we actually resolve to live in a way that makes God feel good about us? What if we resolve to live a life that brings pleasure to God?
First of all, we are none of us Jesus, so we will make mistakes. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try, with God’s help, to live with resolve in 2021, that kind of resolve that means in January of 2022, God can look back at our year of living and declare “Your life brings Me great pleasure. Well done good and faithful friend.”