Friday, March 11, 2016

You Don't Have to Agree, You Don't Have to Understand...You Just Have to Obey

I have a daughter who contends with nearly every command; she doesn't like to be told what to do--no compliant child here.  Constantly the negotiator, she has actually said these very words, "Mom, I think I know better than you what to do." Perhaps you'd laugh and say, "Sure, I've had my child say that too."  But, is your child seven?

Today--like so many other days--I challenged her to respect authority, "You don't have to agree; you don't even have to understand. You just have to obey."

Again, on the way home, I found myself reverting to lecture mode, discussing the various "practical" points of the home's hierarchy. "You aren't in charge. We are. It's God. Mom and Dad. And then you. You need to do what we say; that's where you will find the most fulfillment, joy, peace. Disobedience will only lead to chaos and dissatisfaction and a lack of purpose. You'll make yourself miserable and everyone else too... It's really not that complicated. Just do as we say." (Yes, I realize my discourse may have been a little "over the head" for her 5- and 3-year-old brothers).

As I'm talking, I'm not actually hearing myself.
Not that complicated, huh? Just do as you are told.
You don't have to agree.
You don't have to understand.
Just obey.

But, do I acknowledge those simple truths in my own relationship with authority--the Ultimate Authority?  When God tells me to do something in His Word, do I scoff, "That doesn't make sense. Why should I do that?" OR "I don't think that's the best course, God. This path looks better to me."

In Bible study this week, Priscilla Shirer pulled in Luke 5, a passage that shows the fishermen and their defeat. They've been fishing all night and have caught nothing. Late morning and Jesus shows up on the scene. He tells them to "put out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch" (vs. 4).

To Peter this idea didn't make any sense. Shirer pointed out that, according to scholars, the best fishing on the Sea of Galilee was at night, not during the day (as it then was).  And fish were caught in shallower waters, not out in the deep. So, Jesus' directive didn't line up with Peter's feelings, experience, or understanding, but then we have this incredible line of faith from Peter, "But because you say so, we will..." (Luke 5:5).

Likewise, Abram was told to pick up and leave (Gen. 12, Hebrews 11). God didn't tell him where, He didn't tell why it was necessary but He did promise to be with Abram and bless him.  Later the Lord commanded Abraham to take his only son and sacrifice him on an altar.  Did that make sense? Surely Abraham couldn't understand--or agree--with God's directive to kill his only inheritance. But, Abraham obeyed.

Do God's directives always seem so illogical? Of course not. Our God is a God of order, not chaos or confusion. Still, it's important to remember our finite understanding in comparison with our all-knowing, eternal Father. In light of His knowledge, our comprehension is minuscule, at best.  To say that "we get it" is arrogant, if not outright idolatrous. He knows the best course; we show our wisdom when we follow.

Personally, I've wanted to get to a place where it was necessary for God to do something extra-ordinary in my life.  Not because I was into wowing the crowd around me or proving my worth as a believer, but because I want my life to be more a testament to what He is doing than merely what I'm capable of doing on my own. I want to reflect the Lord's power, not just my own human attempts. When you look at the lives of believers in the 1st century (Acts), you see lives magnified by truth, equipped by the Spirit's power, and changed by the Lord's work. They were doing things that only God could do, and everyone could see that.

"A sure sign of the Holy Spirit's working is that Christ is magnified, not people. When the Holy Spirit truly moves, God is the one praised. Jesus is the one lifted up. When the Spirit moved at Pentecost, people knew there was a power present that came from God. That's why they didn't leave saying, 'John is amazing! He learned a new language in a matter of seconds!' They knew it had to be God. Let's pray that God would empower us so radically that we would get no glory. That people would see our works and glorify God" (Forgotten God, Francis Chan 87).

It's important to ask the Lord, "What do you have for me today...right now?"  Being such a forward-thinker, I often translate God's will through a futuristic scope, "Next year, I'll..." or "When the kids are older, we can..."  But how does He want me to obey right now? What purposes has He placed in front of me today, this very moment?

" expose our hearts to truth and consistently refuse or neglect to obey the impulses it arouses is to stymie the motions of life within us and, if persisted in, to grieve the Holy Spirit into silence."
--A. W. Tozer

I don't want to be a believer who says "I believe that He will hold me up," but I never prove it by my actions. I want to walk forward in obedience, even if the only thing I see in my future path is Him. My life isn't sustained by the size of my faith but the size of my God. It is the Object of my faith that I propel my actions toward. He is the One I chase after and He is the One that will do a mighty work. Let us not diminish what He is capable of doing in and through us; may we open up our hearts to fully embrace His influence.  May we just obey. And then see what He will do!

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