The reading and reflecting I’ve been doing over the last couple of months have led me to thinking about obedience. Increasingly I’m not sure that obedience is about doing or not doing what you think God may or may not want, based on some external set of guidelines. We will, whether we like to admit it or not, pick and choose. No burning alive the pastor’s daughter because she’s sleeping around. No stoning our rebellious son. Yet God, in Leviticus, specifically commanded that these things be done. We feel okay about not committing adultery, though we tend to redefine it to suit the times. Among serious Christians there are wide latitudes of difference about divorce.
I’ve come to believe that there are no external guidelines for determining my specific behaviour. I think that’s entirely up to God now. If I’m doing something, it’s because God wants me to, or I wouldn’t be doing it. If I’m not doing it, it’s because He doesn’t want me to. This is a pre-conscious process, kind of running in the background. In the foreground I’m still assessing, figuring things out. And in the foreground I use only two filters. Love your neighbour, and love God. And if you get feeling uncertain about what ‘love’ is, go back to First Corinthians and read it again.
This could seem heretical. If I’m doing it, it’s because God wants it? What if I were busy torturing a puppy, visiting some appalling pornography site, cheating my room-mates on their share of the bills? Wouldn’t that mean God told me to? How else would I have come to be doing it? The answer it that I wouldn’t be doing those things. As I walk this one I find that my act is getting cleaned up on a deeper and deeper level.
One might ask – “How to you know who it is you’re trusting? Could be the wrong one, no? Better to follow the rules God gave us.”
That’s there is a ‘wrong one’ I have no doubt. At the beginning of every day, and several times through the day, then again at the end of it, I ask the Lord to accept each particle, each molecule of my experience, the easy ones, the hard ones, the pain or loss or joy and just the in-between parts and make them fully his. When the Book of Common Prayers says “To be a reasonable, holy and living sacrifice” I think that’s what it means. I don’t want to sacrifice myself to some set of doctrines that just leads to fear. The real sacrifice is to let go of all of it, all the deciding power. “Not my will, but Thine” with the rider that I can’t possible know Thy will, not be any book or precepts or code or commandment. The only way I can find out is by releasing into Your love, in complete trust that You will use my life in any way You choose.