Wednesday, July 02, 2003
More rough draft: I wanted to share some of the thoughts I've been hit with for this Thursday's POWERHouse - 7pm @ CWO. I was planning on a 2-week thing, but I think it'll work to get all of this topic in this week, and that way I can either still do something next week 07/10, or Pastor can jump back in the saddle again.
My first night was going to be OBEDIENCE IS NOT SACRIFICE, followed the next week by OBEDIENCE IS A PROMISE. But I think I can go for hitting all of it this week. In talking about obedience, we often linger on the Law and the thou-shalt-not's first, then the must-do's, then there's a feeling that some of the commands of Christ are good suggestions and we don't feel the compulsion to move on them at all. If we've been growing and maturing, though, and we've talked about this, that HAVE-TO turns into a WANT-TO. What I've been meditating on is how that happens, because I find myself obeying out of both HAVE-TO and out of WANT-TO. I'm convinced it's my flesh (buffet my body into submission, 1 Cor. 9:27) and my own mindsets of selfishness and laziness (every thought captive, 2 Cor. 10:3-5) that hold me back. At the same time, what in me spurs me on towards WANT-TO? It happened with my wife last week, and I'm still pondering the whole thing.
Long day, driving home on I-77, and all I'm looking forward to is to kick my shoes and socks off and put on some shorts and veg out under a ceiling fan. Vicki calls and asks me to stop at the store. Right there, my HAVE-TO wanted to whine, and my WANT-TO was sweating in my black interior CRV. But I didn't complain (much), and I stopped at the store. And here's why it was, in my mind, a SUBMISSIVE thing:
My motivation wasn't "get this done so that she won't nag me anymore and I can really relax when I get in the door". My WANT-TO was to make her happy, to serve her. I could never be motivated by "oh yeah, I WANT-TO stop at the grocery store right now - what a great idea!" But the motivation to love my wife and show her that love, that's what motivated me to do the thing for nothing more than a hug and her smile. There's a difference there, because the HAVE-TO of a particular task is a sacrifice on my part. But the WANT-TO of pleasing her is a fulfillment of the promise we've made to each other. One is focused on me and that thing I don't want to do; the other is focused on her and that thing that I've grown to enjoy. So, I went to the store, didn't gripe about it (much), and all was well in da house. I wanted to please her more than I wanted to serve self. Isn't that what God desires from us?
So, using passages on obedience and sacrifice (we'll spend time in 1 Samuel 15 where Saul disobeys God, and in Luke 15 where the HAVE-TO of the older brother robs him of living in his sonship), I'm finding that they're not the same thing, but that I often look at OBEDIENCE as a SACRIFICE, as a laying down of my life to do this thing I don't want to do. But in reality, OBEDIENCE is a PROMISE, both from Jesus ("if you love, you'll OBEY me", John 14:23-24), and from the relationship that's growing as I seek to please Him.
OBEDIENCE IS NOT SACRIFICE leads into OBEDIENCE IS A PROMISE. Jesus promised that if we loved Him, we'd be obedient. Once again, if my focus is on His promises, His love, His life in me, then I won't begrudgingly do something. I'll do it cheerfully. In sacrificing this way, I give freely - and in the NT, that means a living sacrifice that won't jump off the altar, since the focus is on Christ and not on what I'm leaving behind. And this is where I think Hebrews 5:8 comes in. Jesus learned obedience through suffering. What suffering? Leaving heaven, denying Himself, etc - and in that He wasn't sacrificing as much as He was submitting to the Father's will. The "suffering" was the choice to not dwell on His own desires/needs/wants/flesh, but to instead focus even to the point of loss on what the Father was doing...... How dis He learn obedience through that? Perhaps in discovering that YES, the Father did supply, and that YES, the joy in the relationship was sufficient/enough to go through the relative crap of this earth and human life. What do you think?