I yelled with anger at my daughter.
She was not obeying.
Neither was I.
I've spoken before about the difficulty of obedience. Could we explore this a little further?
Part of the trouble, I think, is that we have come to view authority with suspicion. We see authority, even the authority of the Church, as being heavy-handed and suppressing. We think that authority keeps us from being truly free, keeps us from being the person we were meant to be.
I was listening to my Mars Hill last week and heard an interview with Victor Lee Austin, the author of Up With Authority, who suggests that we need authority in order to flourish as human beings.
He uses the image of a cellist in an orchestra. There are many pieces of music written for cellists that we can enjoy listening to, but that is only a small piece of what a cellist can do. For the cellist to flourish, for her to be more fully herself, she needs something bigger. For something bigger to exist, we need authority...the conductor.
Authority, instead of crushing freedom (although unrighteous authority certainly can do that), enables and increases freedom. The more involved we are in complex society, the more we need authority making the decisions. Having true authority increases the "ability for persons to act in concert for good that can be achieved by corporate action".
Back to the orchestra for a moment: Austin says that "the conductor is drawing the cellist forward into a place where she can be more fully herself, which she didn't necessarily see beforehand and that is through what happens as the orchestra plays".
If I could trust the authority of God enough to obey Him, I would become more myself, more free, more able to work for God's glory and the good of those around me.
Which leads me to the biggest reason I don't obey: I don't believe God.
That sounds horrid when I say it out loud, but it is true. If I truly believed that God's way of love was better than Satan's way of unrighteous anger, that it was more effective, I would show my daughters love rather than rage.
I have been reading Psalm 119 this week and was struck by the psalmist's eagerness, almost desperation, to obey God:
vs 5-6: Oh, that my ways were steadfast when obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands.
vs 10-11: I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
vs 15-16: I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.
vs 20: My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times.
vs 33-34: Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart.
vs 45: I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.This goes on for 176 verses!
I want so much to desire obedience with such fervor. But how?
I notice two things.
I notice that David spends much of his time in beseeching God to help him obey.
I notice that a delight in obedience seems to begin with a delight in God's words, an immersion in the words of God.
God must change my heart to desire obedience, to desire Him.
In the book, Radical, by David Platt, I recently read this:
The fruit of our salvation...is indeed a gracious gift from God.I can't even want to obey God, much less actually obey, without His gracious help.
In order for God to change my heart, I must steep myself in His words.
If I meditate on His words, if I refuse to neglect His words, God will help my heart to begin to believe His promises.
Will you hide His word in your heart along with me? I am memorizing verses 33-34 this week:
Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.
Will you join me in memorizing this and praying it to God this next week? What might He do in our hearts?
One last thing I noticed?
Seeking out God's precepts results in the ability to walk about in freedom.
God's authority, His laws, gives us the freedom to truly be ourselves!
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.
~ Will you go here for one more thing to read about the importance of memorizing the Bible?