The spirit in which you act

From what I can tell, the word “obedience” in wealthy, western societies (like mine) is a heavy, negative word. It smacks of blindly and mindlessly doing what someone else tells you to do. In popular culture it reeks of oppression.

But in Christianity, chosen obedience is a positive thing. Since God and his will are the most important priorities, we want—as we grow and transform to become more like Jesus—to do what he wants.

This is demonstrated by Jesus himself who, on the night before his crucifixion, prayed to his heavenly Father, “not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

It might seem like a paradox, but when it comes to the Christian life, the more obedient you are the freer you are.

But lately I’ve been thinking about another dimension of obedience. Quite often we can think of obedience only in grandiose experiences like going on a mission trip or tending to the needs of someone on the street.

But that’s only a certain aspect of obedience.

Richard Mouw recalls an example given to him by sociologist Peter Berger. It was about an elderly woman in a retirement home who feared not being able to control her bladder when she went to the cafeteria. “Radical obedience” to her, and in that moment, would be fully entrusting herself to God’s care whenever she went down the hall for a meal.

With that in mind, I’ve been thinking that radical obedience isn’t always about how spectacular your actions are, but the spirit in which you act.

It is a radical obedience for you, for me, for our children, for our families, for our churches, and for the dozens of situations where we need God more than we need anything or anyone else.

Radical obedience isn’t always about how spectacular your actions are, but the spirit in which you act.

By Matthew Ruttan


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