Friday, August 25 2023
Obedience is a concept most 21st century Christians in America struggle with. For many of us it invokes our fear of failure and judgement. Much of Protestant Christianity has used fear of judgement to get people to obey, to "tow the line." but the opposite often happens. Fear leads to anxiety, shame, and eventually alienation. In this week's lesson from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans we hear the exact opposite approach to obedience. In the first two verses of chapter 12, Paul encapsulates a vision for living the christian life based on gratitude for everything God has done rather than fear of punishment.
Before he tells us what to do, he reminds us of everything God has done for us, and then uses the simple word "therefore." Since God has broken all the boundaries that separate us from God through a lasting, abiding, unbreakable relationship in Christ -- Therefore, brothers and sisters, what do we offer back to God? The foundation of our relationship with God is gratitude for these cords of love binding us together. And God's response is delight. Our relationship with God can never be based in fear but only in mutual self-giving, gratitude and delight.
So this week, as we look at Romans chapter 12:1-2 ask yourself these questions: Do I ever obey God out of fear? What would change if I obeyed God out of gratitude and a desire to please him? What about my life delights God?