Friday, September 28, 2012

To Obey is Okay, To Honor is...

A friend sent me this in his daily verse: Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. (Psalm 51:12 NLT).

I don't particularly like the NLT translation and prefer the ESV, and occasionally reference the KJV or NIV and a few others.  The ESV translation of the latter part of that verse is "uphold me with a willing spirit" instead of "make me willing to obey you." I think it goes much deeper than mere obedience. You can obey someone without ever having a relationship with someone.  I think it's more about having a spirit that joins together with the Spirit of God in His purposes. I was motivated to write back...

For family devotion one night, I decided to start with a question. What does the word 'honor' mean to you? The first answer I got was 'respect' from my son, and 'appreciation' (big word!) from my daughter, and my wife added 'revere'.  Then, I suggested that to 'obey' just means to do what you're told and they nodded in agreement. We could clearly see that 'honor' was not the same as 'obey'.

Next, I read Ephesians 6:1-2* and pointed out that while Ephesians 6:1 says for children to 'obey' parents, Ephesians 6:2 says to 'honor your father and mother'.  Obviously, the two adjacent verses were not merely emphasizing the same point, as if to say, "obey and I mean it."  Rather, it means to at least obey (v1), but the real goal is to honor (v2).

I think about our Father that way.  There is a goal and it is not merely to obey.  He wants to have a relationship with us.  He loves us, absolutely adores us, and He wants us to choose to love Him in return. As a child, simple obedience is required for their protection and training.  As we mature, let us move beyond that into honor, and eventually delight, just as He delights in us.  (Remember, as Christians, He is 'in us' by His Spirit, not just 'in our midst' like He was in the OT, from which this verse is taken.)

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

* The verse I reference above is: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother", (Ephesians 6:1-2a)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Good grief! What if he's right?

I like to stay in touch with what unbelievers are thinking.  An excellent source and, I feel, a very well written one at that, is a magazine called "The Sun".  Personally, I can relate to many of the stories, letters, and essays, and, because of them, I'm inspired to be genuine myself.

It is one thing to know that we are loved, whatever, whenever, and wherever we are, as Alan Knox stated so thoroughly in his blog.  But I believe it's quite another to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge in our hearts so well that others unmistakeably see Christ in us.

From the May 2012 issue of The Sun, the author is largely expressing the confusing disparity, resulting in an internal struggle, between tolerating and taking care of her terminally ill mother. Some of what's tolerated is the apparent hypocrisy of a church-goer, her mother, when she's not at church.

Speaking of a possibly convicting sermon, where the reaction is one of, "Good grief! What if he's right?" The author supposes that negative things carried for family generations can come to an end via a little applied compassion --

    "or,  if you know full well you're not up to the job [of forgiving people, and forgiving yourself], get down on your knees and let Jesus do it for you.  That is the arrangement that's on offer, if I've got the story right.

    All of a sudden church is over. These people! They grab you by the throat and wave God in your face, they preach damnation and everlasting glory, then they dismiss you just like that. That's it. We're done here. Go have lunch.

    At the door the preacher shakes our hands like we've made a deal, like we've each gotten rid of something we were glad to see the back of.

Dear Lord, let me be sure that is not the impression I leave as I encounter those who are struggling with real life issues, and are seeking a genuine answer, an answer only You can provide.