Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Call to Obedience

“If only I had faith . . .” When there is an “if only” statement, it is generally followed by a “then” statement. So what is the “then” that follows the “if only I had faith” statement?

Here are some possibilities:

  • “Then” my prayers would be answered.
  • "Then” I would ace my exams.
  • “Then” I would get well.
  • “Then” I would win the lottery or get a raise.
  • “Then” my children would be OK.
  • “Then” I would find the love of my life.
  • “Then” my spouse would be nicer to me.
  • “Then” I’d lose some weight.

Lots of options for our “then” statements here.

I wonder what Jesus’ disciples had in mind when they said to him one day, “We need more faith. Tell us how to get it.” (Luke 17:5, New Living Translation). Perhaps they were asking for more power in order to bring healing to others. Or for more willingness to lead sacrificial lives. Or for an ability to really forgive others. Not too long before, Jesus has reminded them that every time someone asks for forgiveness, they are to offer it. That’s a tough one for most of us. Definitely takes a lot of faith to do that. And all of these possibilities seem like reasonable requests for an increase in faith.

But Jesus certainly doesn’t give the kind of answer most of us would like particularly well. He just tells them that if they had even a tiny bit of faith, they could do anything they wished. What they really needed was to learn to obey God.

Hmmm. This is kind of like me saying, “Hey, God, one of my sons is moving to France next year and I’d really like to learn French—how about giving me a gift of speaking in that language?”

Then God responds, “What a great idea! I’ll definitely give you that gift, Christy. Here’s what you do: take several classes the language, start listening to teaching CD’s when you are in the car. Read French literature when you want to relax a bit and plan on several months in some French language immersion classes. Before you know it, you’ll be speaking it beautifully! That’s my gift to you.”

Ouch! That’s a lot of hard work! I just want it handed to me, all nice and neat, no effort required. Nothing like exposing my laziness! I suspect that’s what Jesus had in mind here when speaking to his disciples. “You want the easy road—but I’m calling you to the road of obedience and hard work. It may be tougher in the short run, but the long run rewards are so much greater.”

So, will I make the effort to learn French? Probably not. I admit it—I just want the result without the hard work going into it. But there are areas of my life where I will make the effort—and one of those is seeking each day to have an obedient heart toward God. That is worth the hard work. Hope you’ll join me.

1 comment:

Angie Hammond said...

Speaking from the standpoint of a scientist, I can relate to the If.....Then type of statement. A scientist does this all of the time when he or she performs experiments and draws conclusions from them. But what does this have to do with faith?
I'm afraid not much when it comes to having it or getting more of it. Perhaps that is why many scientists find it so hard to believe there is a God.
We can't perform an experiment to see if God is real. So faith comes hard to us at times.

This came to me just last week when one of my students asked me why so many scientists didn't believe in God. After thinking about it for a minute or two, I responded that I beleived that it was because scientists lived in a world that had rules and laws and concrete facts. And God existed in a world of faith. And that faith was something a scientist had a hard time embracing because it was considered to be something unseen and had to just be believed without always having proof.

Which brings me to my point. In science if the same thing happens everytime you observe something it can be said to be a law. Like the law of gravity. We all know it as what goes up must come down. We don't have to see it to believe it, we just know it and believe that it will happen because it always does.

Perhaps that is what Jesus had in mind when he told his disciples that they really needed to learn to obey God. Because He knew that everytime we obey God, we are saying that we believe in Him and want to do his will. And the very fact that we obey is what strengthens our faith which is what we asked for more of in the first place.

A scientist would say it like this.
People + Obeying reacts with Gods law and Love to give God's people + Faith.

And as all scientists know every reaction must be balanced. You can't get what you don't have to start with.

So we begin with obedience and as we live obediently we are transformed by God and his love into people of great Faith. A scientist would say that this was a chemical reaction since God takes us and transforms us into a new creation.

And speaking as a scientist, I can grab hold of being obedient a lot easier than I can grab hold of just believing without seeing. And the end result is that I have grown in my faith which is what I wanted more of to start with. It just required me to put in more at the front end of the equation.

Well worth the effort in my book. Especially since I could also tell my student that I am a scientist and that I believe in God and that I also have faith. Nice to be able to share that fact when they ask such questions in class.

Now that is something I can grab hold of and hang on to!