We Can’t be Obedient if We Aren’t Rebelling

To be obedient to God, we must become disobedient to our previous way of living.

We have to rebel against the life of self satisfaction.

We have to reject the tendencies to serve worldly desires and systems.

We have to sin against our former gods.  (wealth, reputation, status, legacy, etc)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die”.  Death to our old way of things.  Death through baptism.  Death to our lives centering the universe.  Death to an old law.  Death to prison.  Death to loss and pain.

We can’t take on the new without properly burying the old.  If we truly nailed our sins to the cross and watched them breath their last, we can burst up from the depths of the waters a new creation by and from God.  An obedient servant.  Dripping with the holy waters of salvation met with loving freedom and creation.

Then we can follow the Man.  The one who said “you are forgiven”.  The Man that walked on water and raised the dead… yet came to give up His own life.  The definition of power and majesty who decided to yield to frail men with evil agendas.  The leader who brought a plan with me in mind and then said, “it is finished”.

Obedience.  Following a God who stooped to the level of humanity, so that we could enter the kingdom of a Fatherly deity.  He became like us so we could be made like Him.  And now, we choose to obey, not because we have to, not because the rules say so, not because we promised or feel guilty… but because it’s the most exciting thing we can imagine.  I get to follow God.  I get to walk in the footsteps of the greatest sacrifice ever made.  I can see the path to follow and treading between its borders is the most wonderful form of worship and praise I can give.

To obey is not to say, “I guess so”.  To submit one’s will is to jump up shouting… “there is no other way!  This is how life is meant to be!”  Psalm 119:97 says, “Oh how I love your law!  It is my meditation all the day.”  A huge portion of that chapter addresses how wonderful the law is.  Not as a book of decrees or a hierarchy to submit to, but as a loving and protecting testament to the relationship between God and man.

Obedience is an honor and privilege.  It is true freedom.  We take off a heavy burden and put on a loving and light one.  A burden that is tremendously unbearable when people try and resist it.  A burden that is graciously easy, when willfully followed.

Obedient to the one who created us to be eternally happy.  We are crafted to sit at the thrown with God.  How can we fight the natural way of things?  The enemy is near.  It is he who deserves our disobedience.  It is he we are to die to.  Whomever we do not die to, we will live eternally with.


Grace, More than Once

We have a young foster child in our home.  Recently, he had an opportunity to speak to his parents on the phone.  When they didn’t answer, my wife reached the phone out to him and put it on speaker so he could leave them a message.  Only, he didn’t want to.

His face curled down to sad and his fingers started entangling amongst themselves, while he stared at the floor.  My wife prompted him verbally, visually, and physically and he just sat traumatized before the recording mailbox.

He was given plenty of warning, lots of time, and a plethora of opportunities to speak up.  He refused them all.  So she hung up and then the tears started to flow.  When we asked what was wrong, he wouldn’t answer.  We knew part of it already.  He comes from a background where he always gets his way.  Being offered things that he doesn’t want or like causes some outrageous reactions.

So we started to chalk this up to yet another episode where he is making sure that he is in charge.  His tears turned to fits and his fits soon became bellowing screams.  All because he chose not to talk.  We hadn’t even indicated that any form of discipline was in order.  He simply wasn’t going to talk to his parents this day by his own choosing.

After he calmed down some, we tried to figure out what happened.  He is an excellent communicator when he wants to be.  He let us know that he was scared and sad and that he wanted to try again.  But the problem is that we had already let him know the rule based on many of these outbursts before.  Once he passes up an opportunity and chooses to ignore us, disobey, etc.  He loses that chance for the day.

So here we have a child that refused to do something he actually wanted to do and now is whining, crying, and complaining, because he can’t do it anymore (at least for the day).  And while I’m struggling to not pull out my hair over how he reacts and over reacts and then constantly comes back and wants to try again even though he totally blew it before, I finally realized… He’s just like me.

Ignoring God, thinking I know best, doing my thing, living my own way, my rules, my terms, my conditions… then, when things don’t work out, the whining starts.  Why me?  What have I done?  I don’t deserve this!  It’s not fair!

The saddest part?  All of it, every last piece of it, can in some way be traced back to me not wanting to talk to the Father.  If I spent the right time with the right heart in His presence everyday… none of this would happen.

Buts that not all. I actually thought, this is a great opportunity to teach him grace. I could let him talk to his parents and make him so happy and teach him biblical truth all at the same time.

But I was so scared he would expect grace every time… I let the moment pass.

Because I know how he is already. I know how I am. I need grace every time.  All of the progress we made would be lost, he would become dependent on grace and never act correctly on his own the first time.  He would be just like me.  And I can’t stand that thought.

Desperate to teach this child important life lessons, I refused him the most important teaching of all… the one I depend on every day.  I pray God forgives my ignorance and continues to pour grace over undeserving, frequent offenders.  And I’m thankful He keeps His sense of humor up while teaching me through the foibles of a four year old.