My problem with obedience comes from the fact that I think I know best, I want to be in charge. I think that obeying someone else will only lead to misery and denial of the essence of my soul. It seems like a restriction of freedom and, lets face it, we all deserve to be free.
What if obedience to God isn’t a denial of our freedom but the way to freedom? What if obedience to God’s will and way is actually the way to live as we were designed to live? What if doing things God’s way was the way to a full and wonderful life, rather than a dull and restrictive life. I know that’s not new thinking but I’ve totally and utterly forgotten it. I’ve gone back to thinking obedience means a dark dreary colourless existence, one where I am sad all the time because I’m so restricted.
Hang on. There is a whole flipping long Psalm written about how good God’s commands are, how they are like sweet honey, how they are light to our path, how they teach us how to live, how they are our blueprint, the way to access what it really means to be human, what it really means to be alive. The word ‘command’ has become so tainted in our culture that we’ve lost the wonder, the colour, the beauty of the life God has commanded us to live.
We act as if God has commanded us to eat gruel, sit in a corner and shut up, be seen and not heard, be good, be polite, be boring and be bored. Stop it, don’t do that, don’t touch that, don’t taste that. God is a killjoy to our plans. Oh we have believed the lie of the serpent for far too long now.
All this seems so obvious now I write it down. Too obvious to put into words. But I need to. I need to kill this lie. I need to write down the obvious because when I take it for granted I forget it and go back to believing rubbish lies.
God is not calling us to a rubbish life. He really isn’t. He made us. He knows us. He knows the best way for us to live. He wants us to take hold of the life that is truly life. The end of 1 Timothy is a perfect example of this:
17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
Note these are commands, and then note what is commanded: Not to be arrogant, but to put our hope in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Taste that on your tongue for a moment. We have a God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. What a crazy wonderful God. Timothy goes on to tell rich people to do good, to be generous and willing to share and by doing so take hold of the life that is truly life.
This is a GOOD way to live. Following God’s commands is a GOOD thing because he has provided us with everything for our enjoyment. Following his commands involves life, colour, joy, goodness, wonder, generosity, sharing.
There is a cost: these still involve giving up my wants, my rights, but it’s like stopping holding a pathetic little Mr Whippy ice cream to swim in a vat of Ben and Jerry’s. It’s like giving up a day in the sun for a month by the beach in the bahamas. It’s like giving up a small piece of everyday value chocolate for a years supply of lindt.
For too long we’ve believed our way is best. It’s really not. Lets embrace, dance and rejoice because we have a God who really does know better than us what is good for us and wants us to live that life. Who wants us to die to our ways so we may discover a much much better way.
I’ve also remembered in this last week that we aren’t just told to be obedient and then left to get on with it. God wants to equip us for doing his will, it is he that works in us what is pleasing in his sight. He is the one who gives us the desire and strength to obey, to go his way instead of ours. So I pray that he would do that in my heart. I pray he would help my son love his ways, I long to be helpful to my son as we ask for obedience from him. I love that God doesn’t just give us random commands but a whole colourful life that he helps us live. I want our parenting to reflect that crazy grace in action.