obedience and brushing

image courtesy of teethingsolutions.co.uk

Speaking with Christians here in Tanzania (many of whom are so in name only), I often find myself attempting to express the difference between reading the Bible for knowledge and reading it for obedience.  I explain that, when it comes to Christianity, we’re far too intelligent to be so disobedient — that the Bible is, contrary to popular belief, not so difficult to understand that we must study it for years before we can begin to do as it says — or that we need to hire one expert to teach us what the good book means.  I generally am asked to explain further, and this is one of the verses I offer:

“Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation…”  — Philippians 2:14-15a

I don’t have to make use of my bachelor’s and master’s degrees to understand that I shouldn’t complain and argue.  But I still do.  If you don’t believe me, you can ask my wife.  [Please don’t.]

Knowledge isn’t the answer, but is only useful towards (and for) obedience.  Adding Bible knowledge to an already disobedient life is like sending someone to medical school who refuses to brush his teeth and wash his hands.

image courtesy of ethicsoup.com

I’m afraid we claim to take seriously The Great Commission, but have stopped at the Holy Spirit.  Here’s the way we often read it:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  [Full stop.]”

What we often miss is this line, which immediately follows:

“… and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

In fact, we’ve horribly misunderstood The Great Commission when we don’t stress obedience.  Making disciples requires that they learn to be obedient to Christ.  And it doesn’t seem to be especially effective attempting to teach others to obey Jesus’ commands when we are not doing so ourselves.

I probably ought to stop complaining and arguing.  And I have got to start brushing my teeth.

For more reading on this subject, see these posts:

  • the smart young m.div. candidate
  • my (current) definition of worship

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    Filed under obedience

    5 responses to “obedience and brushing

    1. We constantly need to ask what we will do to put into practice what we have already learned from God’s Word. I call this the “Are you wise or foolish?” question (Mt. 7:24-27).

    2. Yes. I am still learning exactly this. Being obedient is the hardest thing, sometimes uncomfortable, scary or plainly not fitting into my own plans.
      I am learning. I have to start every day again – trying my hardest to be obedient and following God’s word and will.
      No one ever told me that it is hard work to follow Christ. 😉
      But now I am in it – and I rather stick to it and learn obedience than to be ever be parted from God’s love again!
      He is so good to me, guiding me, healing me – I feel so utterly grateful that he forgives me and loves me for who I am. The more easy it should be to be obedient in return – and yet, I often struggle.
      Reading the Bible is easy. Applying it to our everyday life is difficult. But I noticed the change in myself and my family since I started to at least do my best to be obedient. It is worth it! 🙂

    3. Ike

      I want to emphasize the personal pronoun “I”. Ezekiel 36:25-27…..”Then “I” will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; “I” will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, “I” will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and “I” will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh, (one that will respond to spiritual stimili). “I” will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statues, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

      *It doesn’t look like “obedience” is an option!?

    4. When God gives you that new heart you obey Jesus. Jesus is pretty clear that obedience is a mark of discipleship:

      Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me” (John 14:23-24).

      Disregarding the commands of Jesus indicates a rebellious spirit. Does not sound like a new heart, but the heart of stone.

    5. Pingback: adam and eve’s exchange | aliens and strangers

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