OK, so lets leave the parenting thoughts to one side. I’m convinced that helping your child obey is part of parenting, but to be done always in an age appropriate way, according to their understanding, in the most appropriate loving way, in a context of grace and unconditional love, without the expectation that they’ll get it right straight away or all the time and with space for forgiveness and apologising from all sides. It goes hand in hand with not frustrating our children, understanding their world is crazy and difficult lots of the time and helping them not feel out of control, isolated or helpless in the midst of these turbulent years.
There’s a lot of nuances to be worked out there from family to family but I hope to try, and fail and get up and try again to love our boy well, to not frustrate him, to give him a safe grace filled world to breath, in the midst of also teaching him about obedience.
So. Lets get back to that word ‘obey’. I’d like to scrap it altogether but I can’t wipe out huge parts of my Bible. However much I’d like to make my Bible say what I want it to say I can’t. I can’t escape the reality that it talks about obedience as part of our lives as God’s children. Part of our lives. It isn’t the whole picture. It’s in the context of the big picture. That massive picture is that we are all dearly loved children of God, dearly loved, not put up with, not annoyed with, not wishing he could have a break from us, not sighing because he has to spend another moment with us. His parenting of us is not like our human parenting. He dearly loves us with a never failing, never stopping, never giving up love (thanks Jesus Storybook Bible for that phrase). But he still calls us to obedience.
The Old Testament is full of the call to obey God’s ways. The 10 commandments seem like a fairly obvious example of that. Isreal as a nation is called to stop following it’s own ways or the ways of the other gods around them and to be different. To walk in God’s ways, to obey him. 1 Peter says this:
1 Peter 1:13-16: Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’
To be honest I prefer the phrase, ‘walk in God’s ways’ to ‘obey the Lord your God’ because it sounds nicer. It sounds less like I’m being forced into something and more about a choice. When it comes down to it though both phrases are about going God’s way in this life rather than mine. That’s where my problem lies. I want to obey when it fits with my plans and my ways. I want to walk God’s path when it suits me, not when it doesn’t. I’m like that with human authority. I am happy to follow a boss when I agree with them but try every way to get around it when I don’t agree with them. Or I assent on the surface but quietly ignore them so they think I’m compliant but my whole attitude and being say the opposite.
I have a mug to prove this. A mug given to me by my old work place as a leaving present. It says, ‘we know Kath’s the real boss’. It’s a mug that perfectly encapsulates my problem. I think I know best all of the time. When I agree with God’s commands I’m up for following them. When I don’t though I just politely ignore them.
Obedience is hard. I don’t like it and I don’t want to do it. To get around it I pretend I don’t know what God’s commands are, I pretend I don’t know how he wants me to live. I pretend I haven’t read the fruit of the Spirit or the call to be Holy or the call to love my neighbour as myself.
I’m looking for a way to try and love obedience. Is there anything that helps? Is there anything that helps you love obedience?