January 26, 2011

Sin does have an actual opposite...

but it's usually called a word that we don't like to use, or to hear.  At least, we don't think we like this word.  (Btw, this opposite word business follows up on my last post.)  Nevertheless, in English, the double negative of "don't sin" can best be replaced with the positive imperative term, "obey".

Ahem.  However...

Naturally - and unfortunately, for many reasons - we haven't all felt the same graciousness from others while being called (by them) into obedience.  There are no perfect parents, but it's certainly true that many children at least don't often perceive that their parents' commands and demands are coming purely from the context of love and care for that child.  And of course, some parents are just horrible, aren't they?  Still, 'Honor thy parents' is the first commandment with a promise.  "That it may go well with you..."  Hopefully, one way or another.

In the best situations, in the context of strong relationship, obedience doesn't often need to be underscored verbally.  There have been people in my life (who never used that "o" word) for whom I would have run through burning buildings, at a moment's notice.  And there have been people in my life whose most earnest demand couldn't get me to stand from my seat.  It should be obvious to anyone else who's had both heroes and villains in life that the difference between such loyalties had little or nothing to do with vocabulary.  It's always all about how much someone cares about pleasing another.

Apparently, if John 15 is any indication, Jesus waited until the end of his life to tell his closest lieutenants, "If you love me, you will obey me."  The first time we read that Gospel, we at least get to wait till the end of the story to hear it.  But I guarantee, the people who quote that verse to you most quickly, in starting a new relationship - they're the ones you're most likely to NOT wish to please.  Oh, dear God, help us all...

Without question, "obedience" is a very good word.  Or it ought to be.  But I try not to use it, in general, and when I do talk about it (to anyone, including my own kids), I think the best way to speak of obedience is within the context of a loving relationship.  No.  The *best* way is to speak of Jesus' obedience to the Father, and that being within the context of *their* relationship.  For instance...

We should know for an absolute fact that, in Nazareth, there were moments when young Jesus heard, spoke and meditated on this word, from the scriptures.  But there's always more than one way to hear scriptures, such as, "I desire obedience and not sacrifice."  Most of us probably hear the o word loudest in that sentence.  I suspect Jesus fixed in on the "I desire" part.  If we can see Jesus rightly, by looking at the Gospels, I believe it's fair to say His devotion was never to a task list.  It was always to a Person.

May we all learn to be so devoted.

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