Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners


God’s Obedient Child: More Musings for Rebels

I’ve been stalling on the subject of obedience: just the term makes me a bit squeamish, and I’m not sure where this discomfort comes from.

Maybe my squeamishness is the result of having grown up singing in church one too many rounds of that cheesy, old hymn, Trust and Obey; maybe it is the outgrowth of having sometimes heard the term thrown around with an almost smug and legalistic pietism that denies the degree to which obedience to God  requires becoming sullied.

Maybe it’s because more often than not, authority, be it in our churches, places of work, halls of government, or even our families, seems to be gravely misused, frequently with devastating results.  (There’s good reason for the bumper sticker that reads, “Question authority,” which you’ll probably catch in my forthcoming book.)

But I’ve promised to move out of the realm of the abstract into some concrete  reflections on the nature of obedience to God.  What follows here is the beginning of my own wrestling with Scripture.  Maybe you’ll have some contributions- I hope so!  This subject is so rich that it could become fodder for a whole series of reflections on the nature of obedience to God in our marriages and families, places of work, and with respect to our role as citizens of our nations and the world.

Here is what I’ve come up with thus far in the way of what obedience to God isn’t:

  • Blind, unthinking adherence to an external set of laws or commands, in the form of Pavlov’s dog or the subjects of the 1960′s Milgram experiment
  • Externalized behavior only, in terms of a strict keeping of God’s laws (the Ten Commandments) at the expense of a personal relationship with God

 

Here’s what I think obedience is:

  • Being in right relationship with God and inviting God to take the helm of our lives (which is an ongoing act of setting aside one’s own agenda)
  • Inviting the Holy Spirit into our lives on a daily, even moment-by-moment basis
  • Upholding the Ten Commandments, not for the sake of following rules but because these put us on the path to God’s best for us and invite us into a relationship with Jesus
  • Listening to the stirrings of one’s own heart, in prayer, with others, and through the examination of one’s conscience
  • the working out of God’s purposes for one’s life “with fear and trembling” (I happen to believe Kierkegaard is right: if, as I’ve seen it tweeted recently, religion is not a solitary enterprise, it is also true that every human being must ultimately stand alone before God and encounter God for themselves; the church can do great damage in asserting its authority over and against the individual in relation to her God.)
  • following Jesus…if it is true that Jesus is “the fulfillment of the law,” then following Jesus is the closest we can come to obeying God, which, paradoxically, often means calling into question the authorities of this world and declaring our allegiance to One who is greater

 

These are some initial thoughts.  What are yours?  Who, for you, has embodied obedience to God, and why?

And, here’s the $100 question of the day: does obedience to God ever require that we go against our personal conscience? I have in mind here Abraham, whom God told to sacrifice his own son…Drop me a note in the comments section below, and we’ll republish your contributions.

 



Previous Posts

Faith Equals...
This Sunday the preacher said faith is the gap between the kingdom of God we only catch faint glimpses o

posted 11:58:48am Jul. 29, 2014 | read full post »

The Rise of the "Spiritual But Not Religious"
Here at this intersection between God and life, I'm always interested in news pertaining to those who call themselves "spiritual but not religious"—hence this article from The New York Times featuring the work of three other authors who, like me, are responding to the epithet that now describes on

posted 5:53:50pm Jul. 27, 2014 | read full post »

Are You Opposed to People Owning Guns? Via John Piper
[caption id="attachment_5235" align="alignleft" width="339"] Jim Eliot and 4 other missionaries were killed in Ecuador by Auca Indians. The missionaries had guns but chose to fire them in the air rather than at their attackers who had spears. The Aucas have since embraced Christ in great number.[/ca

posted 11:40:36am Jul. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Mental Health Break— "Sea Song" and Lisa Hannigan
This week the theme of the sea put to music especially touched me as our family grieves the loss of my granddad.  My granddad was a lifelong sailor and lover of the sea, and we will scatter some of his ashes on the sea where he used to command our family's annual regatta from Shelter Island, New Yo

posted 11:16:49am Jul. 18, 2014 | read full post »

"Admiral John": A Granddaughter's Remembrances
It feels a bit like Groundhog Day: wasn't it just a couple months ago that I was sharing a granddaughter's reflections upon the death of a grandparent?  This past Saturday, my granddad John slipped away suddenly to join his late wife Peggy of 68 years who had been his companion until two months ago

posted 11:58:22am Jul. 15, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.