Bread – Obedience

July 30, 2014


Readings for Wednesday, July 30, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Judges 3:12-30; Acts 1:1-14; Matt. 27:45-54; Psalms 72,119:73-96

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I often write in Bread about obedience and today is no different. It is not because it is a topic I enjoy. Instead, it is because Scripture is full of references to it, sometimes directly so (the reading from Judges today) and sometimes something built into the narrative (our readings from both Acts and Matthew). All these have a message – obedience to God’s commands is necessary to fully receive the blessings of God. If our faith is weak because our experience with God is shallow, maybe the reason is lack of obedience. If we do not live in joy because of the burdens we carry, maybe it is because we are lacking in our obedience. Obedience is not the result of a negotiation between us and God; it is the result of our understanding we are the created and He is the creator, that we are servant and He is master, that our love is flawed and His is perfect.

In Judges, we find that Israel “again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” and, as a result, was denied the benefits of being God’s chosen. We do not know in what area Israel was disobedient, but it is not hard to figure out – probably in everything, the key failure being the desire (we all have) to exalt themselves over God, to worship themselves, to listen to themselves, and to walk according to the paths they created. But fear not, Israel repented and the Lord brought them “a deliverer, Ehud.”

In Matthew, we find Christ on the cross at the height of His agony, where the fellowship of God the Father was removed from Him for a moment. The obedience here to God is implicit in the events. Jesus knew why He came to earth and was incarnated, He asked God the Father to take away His purpose in coming to earth (to remove the cup), and when God the Father said “No, finish your mission,” Christ was obedient unto not just common death, but spiritual death, detachment from God the Father with whom Jesus had dwelt in union since the beginning of time and prior. His obedience was absolute and the blessing which flowed from His obedience benefits today all those who call upon His name.

In Acts, Jesus has come back to the disciples after His death and resurrection and instructs them to wait until they receive “the promise of the Father.” They waited in the upper room in Jerusalem and, in obedience, received the blessing, power from the Holy Spirit.

Knowing these things, knowing that we are called to obedience and that blessings follow obedience, why are we disobedient?

I wish I had an answer to this for myself, but I don’t. We (I) would rather follow the path which I lay and suffer the consequences than follow the path which Christ lays and be blessed.

Aren’t we fortunate that our salvation does not rely upon our obedience, but on Christ’s obedience? In Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit, my disobedience cannot be ignored by me, but at least I can rest at night knowing that it is forgiven. Forgiven not because of my obedience, but His. Forgiven not because I earned it, but because God gave it.

What should my response be to such a rich gift? Obedience.

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© 2014 GBF

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One Response to “Bread – Obedience”

  1. Kathy Kremer Says:

    I once heard someone say, “The trouble with a living sacrifice is that it keeps crawling off the altar.” I think there are many reasons why we lack in obedience. The main one is that “the old man, or the flesh” resists doing anything that would remove itself from the throne. Our job as Christians is to put the old man to death with the grace of God. It is a long and difficult process. Another reason is that our flesh doesn’t want any kind of discomfort, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. We scream and struggle, resisting God’s will in most every area of life, especially if it involves doing something that might make us uncomfortable. We carefully don’t ask God His will in some areas, because we are afraid he might make us go be a missionary at the back of beyond. Jonah is our patron saint. St. Paul said, “You have not yet resisted sin to point of shedding your blood.” Heck! Most of us haven’t resisted sin even to the shedding of unneeded pounds. We know intellectually that God’s will for us is perfect and will make us complete, but the actuality of giving up control, even to our loving God, is hard in the extreme. For each level of obedience we achieve, for example, we don’t worship idols made of gold or silver, we discover that there is a deeper obedience we have not yet achieved. We are always tempted to put something in God’s place. We may not murder but we engage in gossip that kills someone’s reputation. Again, St. Paul says, “Who will deliver us from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ!” This is our only hope: the finished work of Christ and his righteousness.


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