Saturday, January 24, 2009

Obedience: An Easy Difficulty

Okay, so I’m a little embarrassed about last night’s entry. I should probably never post my midnight musings. They tend to be a little too intimate and it makes me feel vulnerable. So we’ll leave that little spurt of quandrying behind. (Yes, you English buffs out there, I know quandrying is not a word.)

I’d like to say two more things about obedience before we move on to the heart of this whole renewal topic:
First, obedience is not as difficult as it might seem.
And second, it is more difficult.

Obedience is not difficult if we’ve prepared our hearts for renewal. Hearts softened and open toward Jesus will tend to obey instinctively. It’s a natural outcome, almost like breathing.

Someone has said that living the Christian life is simply being “restfully available, and instantly obedient.”

Being restfully available is the same as abiding* in Him. Abiding is the breathing in. And, although instant obedience does require an act of our will, when we make ourselves available, there is momentum built up in the direction of obedience. Obedience is as natural as breathing out, when we’ve already breathed in. There’s a blissful rhythm to it. When that rhythm is broken, as it was when I balked at obeying in the shopping mall that day, it needs to be re-established by confession and repentance. Then the natural process is again in place.

I’ve called it a “natural” process, but it’s really “supernatural.” God is involved in every aspect. It just feels natural when we belong to Him.

The hard thing about obedience is that it needs to be a continuous process, and continuing in anything is difficult. Discipline is involved. Unlike breathing, resting and obeying is not completely antonomic. (Yes, this one is a word. Means “acting independently of volition.”)

Kevin Cram’s blog, quotes Friedrich Nietzsche:

The essential thing in 'heaven and earth' is that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.

Although Nietzsche is not my favorite theologian, I like this statement. Obedience needs to be long, and it needs to be in the same direction.**

Sometimes this kind of obedience becomes plodding, and that’s okay. Plodding is the nature of persistence and God says persistence is a good thing. But it’s good because it is a temporary condition. Persistence leads us through the difficult part into the glorious results—that thing “which has made life worth living.”

As Christians we know the only thing that makes life worth living is abiding in and obeying our Creator. And that worthwhile life is eternal. How delightful!

To know God is at once the easiest and the most difficult thing in the world. It is easy because the knowledge is not won by hard mental toil, but is something freely given. As sunlight falls on the open field, so the knowledge of the holy God is a free gift to (persons) who are open to receive it. But this knowledge is difficult because there are conditions to be met and the obstinate nature of fallen man does not take kindly to them.
A.W. Tozer

*Some translations say “remain in Him.” I like that rendering. It’s as if we’re already there and we just need to stay put.

** I’d just like to add the disclaimer, which I’m sure Nietzsche took for granted, that the obedience needs to be to God. Otherwise the “same” direction would not be a good one. Hitler, who greatly admired Nietzsche, practiced a long obedience in the same direction, and it was disastrous, because he was obeying the wrong supernatural being.


Pastor Terry said...

Enjoyed your post. You have an honest approach to biblical truths. Thanks for sharing.

Terry Michaels

Ginny Jaques said...

Thank you for your comment! It's fun to hear from someone as far away as Texas. Blessings on your writing and your ministry with Calvary Chapel.