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Knock it off

God’s commands to us are actually given to the life of His Son in us. Consequently, to our human nature in which God’s Son has been formed (see Galatians 4:19), His commands are difficult. But they become divinely easy once we obey...

He does not speak with a voice like thunder—His voice is so gentle that it is easy for us to ignore. And the only thing that keeps our conscience sensitive to Him is the habit of being open to God on the inside. When you begin to debate, stop immediately. Don’t ask, "Why can’t I do this?" You are on the wrong track. There is no debating possible once your conscience speaks. Whatever it is—drop it, and see that you keep your inner vision clear.

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (13 May, "The Habit of Keeping a Clear Conscience")


It's the fact that we each are created with consciences that makes my behavior, the behavior of my friends, and the behavior of strangers around the world so disturbing. What am I doing? What are we doing? If I invested a tenth of the energy into obedience that I do in seeking places to wallow in my sin and validation for my wallowing, I'd be so much closer to who God intends me to be—Christ formed in me!

Christ formed in me. Not obedience for the sake of winning God's favor, but Christ formed in me. Do I truly want that, truly believe that He will spare me no good thing? No. Too often I think I'm going to get cheated, that I'd better go after the pleasure of the moment while I can still grab it, then run back to the forgiveness in His arms. I am so completely missing the point.

I need to knock it off, to stop playing this game. So do my friends. So does the world. But I think the task of obeying with my own life is more than large enough. Perhaps, if Christ is formed in me, He will be compelling to my friends—not the idea of Him, or the comfort of Him, but the reality of Him that changes us by the power of His Spirit. Perhaps the world can indeed be changed, not by civic duty or self-improvement, but by Christ formed in the body of His church. That power, without limit, will never be realized in lives that keep playing the games I play.

Comments

A bit of Devil's Advocate

Do I truly want that, truly believe that He will spare me no good thing? No. Too often I think I'm going to get cheated, that I'd better go after the pleasure of the moment while I can still grab it, then run back to the forgiveness in His arms.

From the point of view of unbelief, this makes perfect sense. That is the implicit foundation of all such behavior.

There are plenty of things I'd like that Christ doesn't explicitly promise and some that He downright rejects. What I would really have to do is ask Christ to change my desires, so that I will want only what He gives. This is only logical, however, if Christ is God and He really is able to make better decisions about my life than I am. But to place your will into the hands of a merely human authority is repugnant and slavish, something no self-respecting free individual would do.

Re: A bit of Devil's Advocate

Yes—it's when the believer lives like an unbeliever, even in small and subtle ways, that we give the devil far more than his due. It's humbling to consider that much of the responsibility for the proliferation of injustice and evil in this world may lie with nothing more or less than the disobedience of the church in our own lives. Can we imagine what the unfettered, redeeming power of the Holy Spirit might accomplish through a church, or even a believer, who obeys? I suspect many (but not all, of course) of the tragedies and horrors of this world would be undone.
None of us obeys all the time. Most of us disobey most of the time. And if you disobey all the time, you are probably not in Christ at all.

I'm pointing at myself too, believe me.

It really makes me wonder at the greatness of God's patience.
I'm interested (and frustrated) by the fact that, when we see injustice, suffering, and brokenness in the world, so few of us consider the contribution our own disobedience makes to the state of things. It's the "butterfly effect" on a cosmic level—all of creation is anxiously awaiting the people we truly are, the identities we deface with our disobedience, to be revealed. This world is different and less when we fail to live into those identities because we disobey. I'm humbled and brought to repentence by the realization.

By His Spirit, I'd love to see more of that in my life and in the church as a whole.

Amen to the wonder at His patience!
This is an interesting post to me because it taps into many of my recent thoughts.

I mean, I'm giving up a lot of worldly 'benefits' (ie. money) to follow what I believe is God's will for my life in helping other people one day (when I've qualified).

And I think to myself, 'do I really think I can change anything by working with these kids? Can I even help one of them get completely well one day? And if so, that's just a drop in the ocean really'.

Then I remember what Rich Mullins wrote about loving others just to participate in the character of God, not to manipulate them into 'being good' or being anything at all - even well. I realised I can't measure any love I give out in terms of its 'results' because I'll get discouraged and burnt out that way.

I hope that the Holy Spirit will somehow touch these sick kids despite me being part of the process and perhaps that will then be passed on to others, and so forth so that it multiplies. It's a small hope but I really think that the world is only transformed one soul at a time and that's the only way it can be transformed. There are few people called to be Ghandis or Mother Teresas or Moses'. The rest of us just have to work with one other person at a time, loving them and not looking for 'results' to measure the worth of the love we give.

Indeed. And sometimes I wonder if we believe the work God has begun in us (begun and finished, though we still have a ways to walk) enough. He won't work despite your participation but through it. We are His people, invading a broken world by yielding to and spreading His grace. That's how He's chosen to work.

As for one person at a time: that's just what Theresa did. Moses was overloaded by people and had to ask for help (and rightly so!) and Ghandi wrote and spoke more about enemas than he did about peace. I think you're on the right track. :)
Thank you. ::hugs:: That helped a lot.