Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice. 1 Samuel 15:22
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it!” Luke 11:28
If I were to interview 100 people on the street, asking what their first associations were with the word “obey,” I bet most of the responses wouldn’t be positive.
While I have not done this experiment, my sense is that “obeying” just isn’t a popular notion at this historical moment. There are certainly good reasons for that. We’ve seen the concept abused by those in power both inside and outside the church when they have demanded unquestioning adherence to the “rules” set by them or others. We have seen the concept abused in a certain twisted understanding of married partnership. My sense is, as a culture, we have a lot of negative associations with the word “obey.”
However, just because a concept has been abused doesn’t mean that the original context doesn’t still hold beauty and truth for us. The biblical notion of “obeying” God’s precepts isn’t tied up with power, or unrealistic demands by a selfish leader. The commandments are a bit like the lines drawn on the road that tell you what lane to stay in. You are certainly fully within your right to drift over those lines unthinkingly, but if you do that, you might end up in oncoming traffic or in a ditch. The lines are there for your health and safety. I, for one, am grateful that people I don’t know measured out and painted those lines, because they keep me safe every day as I drive.
As the Scriptures above say, surely obeying God’s commandments is better than drifting into oncoming traffic. Surely, we are blessed, not because we followed the rules, but because the God of love has pointed out for us healthy boundaries to a centered life. Staying in your lane doesn’t guarantee a trouble-free life, but it does help you avoid unnecessary trouble.
My simple prayer for all of us today is that we acknowledge the boundaries in our life as healthy, and there for our happiness and safety. May we be given the strength and the trust to stay within those boundaries today…
God, it’s a counter-cultural thing to thank you for limits, but today we do just that. Thank you for loving us enough to measure out the boundaries of a centered life. Thank you for communicating those boundaries to people long before us, and guiding the process that brought them to us. Thank you for your Word, and for the many human hands you have used to bring it to our lives. Help us trust you enough to stay in our lane. Amen.