Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Be gullible in your obedience

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 21:23-32

TO CHEW ON: "'Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.'" Matthew 21:31-32

Who of us can't relate to the parable of the two sons (Matthew 21:28-31)? I've been both of these sons—the one who said he would do what his father asked but then didn't follow through, and the one who said 'No, I won't,' but did after all. I have also seen this behaviour in my children.

From the story, Jesus teaches that it's not the words we say that reflect what we think our earthly parents want to hear—and that will get them to stop nagging us— that give us their favour, but our actual obedience. It's the same with our heavenly Father. When we give mental assent to what He shows us in the Bible—about how to view Him, our attitudes, actions and how to treat others—but don't line up our lives accordingly we are like the son who says, "'I go sir,' but he did not go."

There is within many of us long-time Christians a tendency to be like those scribes and Pharisees. One of their main problems, as I see it, was to believe that knowledge and ceremony equaled holiness. They were intimately acquainted with the law and adhered to the rules God had instituted (and many more He hadn't) without experiencing a change of heart. They obeyed in many things, but even their obedience led to sin when it became a basis for pride. They kept the letter of the law but were foreigners to its spirit.

Let's stop making the mistake of equating knowledge and rote adherence with obedience. Let's rather be like the 'gullible,' simple-minded sinners who believed Jesus' words and were accepted into the Kingdom of God.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, Your stories show how well you understood human nature and saw through our ways of deceiving ourselves. Help me to take the warning of this story to heart today. Amen.

MORE: More on obedience

"A man is a slave for obeying unless behind his obedience there is a recognition of a holy God. Many a soul begins to come to God when he flings off being religious, because there is only one Master of the human heart, and that is not religion but Jesus Christ. But woe be to me if when I see Him I say—I will not. He will never insist that I do, but I have begun to sign the death warrant of the Son of God in my soul. When I stand face to face with Jesus Christ and say—I will not, He will never insist; but I am backing away from the re-creating power of His Redemption."
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, July 18th reading.

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