CategoryDevotional

God Shaped Hole?

Photo by Valentin Lacoste on Unsplash

A lot of Christians talk about a void in every person that can only be filled by God.  We are compelled to fill it, but we will never achieve peace /fulfillment /wholeness unless this space is filled with God.   This “God-shaped hole” is an innate human desire to connect with the transcendent.

It’s a cliché.  And like most clichés, it’s an oversimplification, but it carries some truth.  Human beings have desires.  Besides physical needs and desires–we were created for relationships, we were created for community, and we were created to be in relationship with God.  To say that all we need is God is to deny the other good things he created us to desire and enjoy.  These ought not to be tossed aside, but understood as good gifts from a loving Father.  But, yes, our most profound desire is to know and be known by God.

For this post, I am borrowing from Tim Keller, particularly his book Counterfeit God’s and a lecture of the same name that he delivered at Cambridge Passion.

In his exploration of idolatry, Keller differentiates good things and ultimate things.

Good Things and God, The Ultimate

God created everything, and he declared them to be “very good” (Genesis 1:31).  The list of good things is obviously very long and it includes:

  • work,
  • romantic love,
  • family,
  • pasta,
  • baseball,
  • acclaim,
  • reason,
  • beauty,
  • self-expression,
  • justice,
  • pleasure,
  • and cherry trees.

The list goes on and on.

Above all these good things, God places humanity.  Humanity occupies this place above the good things because we alone were created in God’s image.   Here’s the text which articulates humanities special position in creation, above all the good things.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

–Genesis 1:26

Innate value has been conferred onto human beings by God.  Our value is linked to God.  In a properly ordered life or society, God is the Ultimate thing.  Human beings occupy a position above all the good things because they were created in God’s Image.  All the other good things are good, but they do not have more value than God or humanity.

“Disordered Loves”

Augustine called sin “disordered love.”  Sin is, in essence, replacing God with something else.  We take a good thing and make it the ultimate thing; we replace the Creator with the created.  The good thing in the ascendant position is an idol.

Career advancement is a common idol in our culture.  There’s nothing wrong with career advancement–it is a good thing–but when it becomes an ultimate thing, all other things must give way to it.  The marriage and the children will be sacrificed to it.  “Friends” becomes a name for those who can be used to aid advancement while others will be treated as rungs on a ladder.  Idols are very demanding overlords, they take and they want it all.

Beauty is a good thing.  And it is another common idol.  it demands huge amounts of money and often ones dignity, and it always fails those who worship it–we cannot stop beauty from fading.

Family is a good thing, but it is a terrible master.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace is one of my favourite books.  It could only come from a brilliant and tortured mind.  His “This is Water” commencement speech to Kenyon College class of 2005, presents some of the wisdom Wallace has aquired through his struggles.  In this passage he explains the problem with false gods:

You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship… Because here’s something else that’s true. In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of God or spiritual-type thing to worship-be it J.C. or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some infrangible set of ethical principles-is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things-if they are where you tap real meaning in life-then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already-it’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness. Worship power-you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart-you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. And so on.  Look, the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful; it is that they are unconscious. They are default-settings.

(If you listen to the whole speech, you will hear Wallace come dangerously close to pointing to a realignment of our loves under the transcendent god, for our sake and for the sake of others around us.)

Whatever your idol, it will eventually eat you alive.

God-shaped hole?  We should maybe stop using the phrase, but behind this cliche is the idea that everything you desires will destroy if they are put into the position of a god.  Conversely, if you subordinate all your desires to Christ’s Lordship, you will achieve the peace and fulfillment and wholeness you seek, because it was for Christ you were made.

How do we walk like a lion?

Photo by Luke Tanis on Unsplash

For the last few years, Abbotsford Christian School has selected a theme song.  We regularly sing this song in our chapels at all three campuses. This year our school’s theme song is “Lions” by Skillet.  “Be Bold,” an idea derived from this song, is the topic we will explore in our chapels this year at the high school.

The Lion Attitude

Courage, Strength, Leadership, Bravery are characteristics that are strongly associated with lions.  The connection between lions and courage are central to many of the motivational speeches I found on YouTube.  And there are a bunch of them!  If you can handle speakers yelling at you for 6 minutes straight, you’ve got to listen to this video called “The Lion Attitude.”  If you get tired of the yelling, the first 2:53 seconds will be enough.

The lion that is presented in this, and all the other video clips, is different than the actual creature that roams the plains of Africa.  The speaker is talking about this imaginary lion when he tells us we need to be like one.

“You tread your own path. Only you know what’s best for you.  Only you know what path to take.”

Real lions survive by interdependence within the group or pride.  They often work together to bring down large game.

The motivational speaker makes other false claims:

“Real lions, they are hungry when the time comes for their mission. Lions are not followers; they are leaders, who lead the rest of the animals.”

In reality:

Real lions go hunting when they are hungry when the time comes for their mission. Most Lions are not followers; they are not leaders but work together, to who lead eat the rest of the animals, all of them.

So my question is, “How am I supposed to walk like a lion, when real lions don’t even walk like lions?”  If the lion attitude really was everything, one would think that at least lions would have it.

“Attitude is Everything”?

Attitude is everything in life . . . whether you rise or fall, everything is based on the attitude that you showed at that moment.  Your attitude determines your altitude.

This is Cody, from Disney’s The Rescuers Down Under.  Cody is falling off of a cliff.

Does Cody have an attitude problem?   If he had a better attitude, would he cease to fall off this cliff?  Does attitude really determine his altitude?  Or does altitude determine his attitude? He’s way up there, but I’m sure he’s not too happy about altitude right now.

You need the lion attitude to take charge of your destiny.  You need the lion attitude that says, “I CAN.”  You need the lion attitude, the attitude that says, “I WILL.”

 

Will a change in attitude change Cody’s destiny?  Will he soar on eagles wings if only he screams, “I WILL soar like an eagle”?

Although our motivational speaker sounds convincing, our experience with life tells us that he’s full of malarkey.  Attitude clearly isn’t everything.

More Important Than Attitude

Attitude is important.

Attitude will certainly contribute to worldly success and success in school.  But it will also help with success in things that give us deeper fulfillment–success in relationships, in loving our neighbours, in obedience to God and in his purposes.

But where does the right attitude come from?  It doesn’t come from thinking that you are something you are not–a lion, an eagle, an infallible human being who is able to defy the laws of nature or our fallen nature.

Attitude brings about success, but what brings about Attitude?Click To Tweet

How can we be bold like a lion and soar like an eagle?

Disney, perhaps accidentally, gives us the beginnings of a very good answer in this clip from The Rescuers Down Under.

In this clip, Cody falls twice–but his attitude is very different the second time.

Cody can’t fly.  On his own, he’s doomed to plummet to his death–both times.  But the second time, he knows something he didn’t know before.

His attitude is different, not because of what he can do.  His abilities or attitude won’t save him. He must look outside of himself.  His new attitude comes from his faith in the eagle.  He’s got his arms spread out, but he’s not flying on his own power. It’s not a quality within himself, like attitude, that he trusts in.

His trust in the eagle gives him the attitude.

Skillet’s song gets at exactly this:

If we’re gonna fly, we fly like eagles
Arms out wide
If we’re gonna fear, we fear no evil
We will rise
By your power, we will go
By your spirit, we are bold
If we’re gonna stand, we stand as giants
If we’re gonna walk, we walk as lions
We walk as lions

It’s hard to be bold, when you are not an eagle or a lion.  It can be hard to:

  • Be a friend.
  • Be involved.
  • Challenge an idea.
  • Resist peer pressure.
  • Say, “No.”
  • Say, “Yes.”
  • Be generous.
  • Forgive.
  • Do the right thing.

But it’s a lot easier if we are not relying on ourselves.

How do we fly like eagles?

We put our hope and trust, in the courage, strength, and power of the eagle in Isaiah 40:31

Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

How do we walk like lions?

By putting our faith in the lion of Revelation 5:5

The lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has won the victory!

We know we are inadequate, but we can still be bold because it’s not by our power that we will succeed.

How do we fly like eagles? We put our hope and trust, in the courage, strength, and power of the eagle in Isaiah 40:31Click To Tweet

Imperfections in Others, Opportunities for Me

Do you want a stronger marriage? I attended the wedding of a friend last weekend.  The message was very short, but beautiful and, to be honest, nothing more needed to be said.

Everyone who has been married knows that living in such close proximity with another sinner is bound to bring out ones limitations.  How are we to deal with these newly discovered or amplified imperfections in our spouse?

The pastor suggested that it’s the imperfections in each other that give us the opportunity to demonstrate God’s love to each other.  Here is what he said:

 

Slowness of others gives us the chance to show patience

 

The mistakes and wrongdoings allow us the opportunity to forgive

 

A place of leadership creates avenues to elevate others

 

The possessions and the talents of others give us the chance not to envy

 

Our own abilities and successes allow us the chance to restrain boasting

 

The imperfect people that make up the church give each other many opportunities to love each other. Without the imperfections, there would be no way to see the fullness of God’s love at work. In a strange way, brokenness is the blessing that allows God’s love to shine through. You already have gifts and you already have a desire to see God’s people succeed. Stay the course. Continue to love by using the gifts you have to serve one another and to serve his people. In this way, God is honoured and your relationship will be hope giving for a world looking for something truly unique.

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Ghetto and Good

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Because I dabble in philosophical questions, I sometimes make comments that don’t go down very well at parties: I suggested that I thought human beings are naturally evil.  There was some disagreement, and then all conversation, as it always does, turned to Donald Trump.

There’s quite a bit of evidence that human beings are naturally evil–watch the evening news or read the comments on pretty much any post where someone offers an opinion.  But there’s also quite a bit of evidence that people are basically good. Everyone knows lots of people who are good and not too many who are bad–bank robbers and such.  I know lots of people who are good too.

The Ringelblum Archive

I picked up a book in Warsaw at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews.  The book contains excerpts from The Ringelblum Archive, a collection of documents and testimonies collected by Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum and his team of researchers between September 1939 and January 1943.  Dr. Ringelblum did not survive, but his collection did.

In one interview a man named Aron Einhorn says,

It is difficult to say whether this moral swamp which we see around us nowadays is the result of the abnormal conditions prevailing in the ghetto, or whether the ghetto uncovered that which had previously been covered up, masked.

He goes on to describe this “moral swamp” of thefts, looting, cheating, cruelty, indifference, oppression, and corruptionWP_20160804_16_57_37_Raw.

They Used to Be Good

The ghetto was filled with a large proportion of people who used to be good.  They were good because they had homes, clothing, food, and hope.  Many had money, respect, freedom, and safety.  It’s easy to be “good” when you have these things.  When these things were taken from them, or at least became scarce, their true nature came out to the surface.

When I look around my community, I see a lot of good people.  I also see a lot of people who have homes, clothing, food, safety, and hope.  Many have money, respect, and freedom.  But are they really good?

We are so individualistic that we actually think we will be judged only for the sins we commit.Click To Tweet

Am I Really Good?

Am I really good?  If I’m honest, there’s some self-centeredness slithering around inside me, but I’m not too bad.  As I walked around the area that was once the Warsaw Ghetto and stood at the site where the residents of the ghetto were put on trains bound for Treblinka, I wondered what I would have done if I had lived there in 1942.  I’d like to think I would have been good, but there’s a very good chance I would not have impressed Aron Einhorn.

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The only remnant of the wall that surrounded the Warsaw Ghetto.

If the Bible is right, we are naturally evil, and we will be judged accordingly.  What people don’t realize is that we will not be judged by what we’ve done.  It’s not what we do that is the issue, it’s who we are.  What I would have done had I lived in the Warsaw Ghetto is a much better indicator of who I really am, than living in my townhouse near a lovely golf course.  I will be judged for who I am.

This is pretty scary,  but if the Bible is right, there’s also some good news–the best news.  It’s been arranged that, if you want, you can be judged as if your very nature were perfect and someone else will take the judgment that your actual nature deserves.  You need only ask him to take your place.

What God taught me through the “Dark Times” (1)

StockSnap / Pixabay

They say that you learn the most about yourself and that God does most of his sanctifying work during the rough times. Enough time has passed for me to have done some reflecting about what God was teaching me during those years when my life was turned upside-down.

One of the things I learned was fearlessness.

I think, before, I must have been scared of a lot of things. I was scared that I would go to the doctor and be told I had only six months to live. I was scared that one of my kids would die. I was scared that my wife would leave me.

I suppose I was really hoping that I could live a charmed life and nothing bad would happen to me. If I think carefully about this attitude, I think I made an idol out of the charmed life. Deep down I didn’t trust this idol, hence the fear.  When the tragedy eventually struck my idol was shown to be the fraud it was.

Consequently, I’m not nearly as fearful as I used to be because I now know that God is bigger than the things I feared before and I can trust him.  He was faithful, and true to his promises.

The God of Judgement

Free-Photos / Pixabay

We live in a culture of tolerance.

Consequently, we don’t like the idea of a judgemental God. We don’t like a God that draws a clear line between right and wrong and then judges the wrong. Many reject a judgemental God.  They just want a God of love.

But deep down, we all want a God of justice.  And love.

The God of Justice

When we look at the cosmos we see that God is as creative as he is powerful. And he must like human beings a lot because he gives us all sorts of good things: love, food, sex, sunsets, beaches, oranges and wine.

God is perfect justice.

This is usually only a stumbling block to those who experience no true injustice.

The people who are repelled by the idea of a just God are often people who have never experienced any significant injustice. Click To Tweet

Who loves Divine Judgement?

Consider all the crap that some people have to live with at the hands of others; then the God of justice moves from an embarrassment to a necessity to get up in the morning.

It is definitely wrong to machine gun children, or to rape teenaged girls and string them up in a tree to taunt their grieving, and helpless father or to force women and children into sexual, or any other kind of, slavery. You know that people do these things, right? If one’s life is filled with this kind of injustice, justice isn’t so easy to dismiss and the God who is justice isn’t so easy to reject.

God is Love

He’s also perfect love. Yeah, I know, perfect justice AND perfect love? How do you put those things together?

Well, if there truly is a God, I think it’s reasonable to expect that there’d be some things that would be, intellectually, a little hard to grasp.

He knew it was hard to grasp so he showed us what it looks like–his son on the cross–he judged Jesus as if he were us (justice), and then he treats us as if we were Jesus (love). Perfect justice and perfect love are right there at the cross.   It’s pretty clear that he will do anything and everything to bring you into a relationship with him. Everything, that is, except force you to be in a relationship with him.   That’s perfect love.

So if you are rejecting God, walk away from the one who heals the sick and blesses the poor, away from the one who eats with prostitutes and then lifts up those that are abused and seats them at the best seats at his table. The one who will bring justice to those who use people like objects and to those self-righteous folk who already have everything that they are going to get, away from the one can only woo you to him with the sacrifice of his love, and who loves you so much he won’t force you.

“Gotta Serve Somebody”

Human beings always serve something.

We always put something in the centre of our life, a thing against which we measure all other things. Perhaps it’s an ideology or a religion or a nation or a cause. Or partying or sex or work. Maybe the arts or sports or fine food and fast cars. Even abstract concepts like freedom or charity or happiness.

Today I heard on the radio that the highest value was “universal human rights.”

We make gods of things.

And it’s dehumanizing.

Idolatry and Dehumanization

If you make a thing more important than human beings, you have made humanity a lesser thing.

  • Religion says that the needs of the god are more important than those of humanity.
  • Nationalism means that the nation is more important than human beings.
  • If I worship sex, getting some is more important than the person I’m getting it with.
  • If freedom is the most important thing, then we sacrifice some people on the alters of that freedom.
  • If you are committed to your own personal flourishing, that of others is subjugated.

We seem to know innately that it is inappropriate to make the value of a human being less than that of a thing.

Innate Human Value

A human being is inherently valuable.

Freedom, nation, happiness, sex, sports, arts, and charity are all good things, but when one of them is made into the ultimate thing, we start to see problems.  When humanity is dethroned as the most important thing and replaced by some good, but lesser thing–political power, pleasure, peace, elimination of murder, and long life.

Bad things happen when we make good things into ultimate things. Good things are ill-suited to occupy the position of a god.

Surrendering to an object or an idea is dehumanizing. The only possible way to serve something, which is part of our nature, and avoid dehumanization at the same time, is to surrender to another person.

You might object that surrendering to another human being can also be dehumanizing. This is true, there are a lot of one-sided relationships where people that are happy to take whatever they can get from you and give very little in return, and they end up being the only ones that are thriving. This is usually (always?) because they are serving a thing or an idea.

There are other relationships based on sacrificial love, they are far from dehumanizing–these are actually humanizing.  We have this for our children–we give far more than we receive, and we don’t care because we are so interested in their flourishing. Some marriages are like this, thankfully mine is one of these, where both put the other’s needs ahead of their own. You give a lot in these relationships, but by some magic, you get back so much more than you give up.

This is was what we were made for, that’s why we flourish by these relationships.

The Truely Humanizing Relationship

Human beings were not only created to have relationships with each other, but also with God.  Not God as an idea, but as a person. The God of the Bible was always a personal God, but when he became human, he got way more personal.

Submission to him isn’t dehumanizing, first of all, because he is a person. But also because he’s not one of those gods–like Baal, Nation or Universal Human Rights–who demands we conform our lives to his desires in order to gain acceptance. Rather he conformed to us by becoming human and then dying for his enemies (myself included), and while we tortured and killed him he forgave us.

What can we do but respond to this grace with a life of gratitude?

If you are going to serve, and you certainly will serve something, it might as well be to the God who served you first. Not just because it makes sense, but because it was for this relationship that we were made.

The Worst Sin

cocoparisienne / Pixabay

It wasn’t very long ago that all the worst sins were the sexual ones — adultery, homosexuality, abortion. These were the activities, it was thought, in which the worst sinners regularly engaged. For many, the term “immorality” has a sexual connotation.

This is a problem. I think our pastors recognize that placing sexual sins at the top of the hierarchy is not Biblical–a distortion of the gospel. I have heard a lot of sermons over the past few years that contextualize the sexual sins — emphasizing that these are no worse than any other sins, like greed or gluttony.

I was fully on board with this leveling of sins until I came across a quote from C.S. Lewis. He reestablishes a hierarchy.

Not only that, he puts sexual sins on the bottom. Here’s the passage:

If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins…. According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil. Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.

This is all very inconvenient.  I was feeling rather proud of my progress against sexual sin.

We've heard it said that all sins are equal. It turns out that this is not the case; there is one that is worse than all the rest. And it's one of mine.Click To Tweet

Do You Pray Naturally?

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Prayer is Supernatural

The last book Bonhoeffer published in his lifetime was “The Prayerbook of the Bible.”  He writes this book while in prison for his participation in a plot to kill Hitler, and the subject of the book is the Psalms.

Remember, the Psalms of the Old Testament are Jewish literature.  You can bet that the Nazis weren’t all that thrilled with publishing books celebrating Jewish literature.

Apparently, he was unaware that such material had to be submitted to the Board for the Regulation of Literature before publication.  Bonhoeffer was sticking it to The Third Reich at the same time he was teaching Christians how to come closer to Christ Jesus.

Natural Prayer and Supernatural Prayer

In this book, Bonhoeffer suggests that we naturally wish, hope, sigh, lament and rejoice—but we should not confuse these things with prayer.  Unlike these internal and natural impulses, prayer is supernatural in that it must be initiated from outside of us, by God.  For this reason, he encourages Christians to pray the Psalms as Christ did.  Our own prayers would travel to heaven along with those of Christ.

Metaxas points out that praying the Psalms was much too Jewish for the Nazis, and probably too Catholic for the Protestants, who don’t go for recited prayers, but Bonhoeffer was insistent that Christians must pray the Psalms.

Because of this publication of this little book, Bonhoeffer was forbidden to publish anything again.

Whether you accept Bonhoeffer’s imperative on the praying of the Psalms, it is important to understand that prayer is a supernatural activity.  My problem is that I usually forget this and do what comes naturally: wishing, hoping, sighing, lamenting and rejoicing.

Praying with the Psalms—which means praying with Christ (as well as the historical Church)—will at least externalize the source of my own prayers and once again remind me that my ability to approach God at all is his gift of grace.

 

Doing the Dishes and the Gnashing of Teeth

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When my kids were younger they had chores—one of which was doing the dishes.

It should have been as simple as everyone taking a turn on a rotating basis, but was never that simple.

Lacrosse games or ballet practices meant that somebody would miss their turn. To ask another child to take care of it resulted in anguished lamentations. These were even louder if the prospective dishwasher could conjure up a scenario where this debt might not be repaid. Then there was the was wailing and gnashing of teeth over the unfairness of having to do dishes on a night when we had a roast, as opposed the other night when a sibling had only to contend with the remains of a meal of bread and soup. Sometimes I got so sick of it that I just did them myself.

Grudging Obedience

I wouldn’t have been any happier if I had their silent obedience either.  It certainly would have been quieter, and possibly less frustrating, but it wouldn’t have lead to their happiness, and in my better moments what I wish most for my children is fulfillment regardless of the circumstances.

The problem in both of these responses, wailing lamentations or grudging obedience, is that doing the dishes is seen as a duty.  The idea of duty or obligation or requirement is set in opposition to happiness and joy.  For my young children, happiness and joy could only be achieved by doing what they wanted as opposed to what they had to do.  My kids put freedom first.

All this was a long time ago.  My children have all grown up. The great thing now is that when they come over for a meal, they joyfully do the dishes. It’s the same activity, but their attitude is completely different.

What accounts for this difference?  Surely, it’s maturity.  They’ve lived away from home and know how much money and work it takes to put a delicious meal onto the table.

But it’s more than maturity; the most important thing for them is no longer freedom from duties and obligations, but a relationship with me, their parent.  I cook for them a delicious meal because I love them and they wash the dishes because they love me.

If we think that Freedom is more important than anything else in order to live the good life (read more here), our focus will usually be hostilely directed toward those things which limit one’s freedom, and those who seemingly impose duties, obligations, responsibilities.

This creates resentful people.

If relationship is more important than freedom, our focus will be lovingly directed toward other persons who we love.

It’s obvious which leads to greater joy and happiness–fulfillment.

Biblical Basis of Fulfillment

It’s all there in Deteronomy 10.  The writer implores God’s people to

 12 . . .walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good.

Obedience certainly restricts our freedom, but washing the dishes after a good meal is a loving and joyful response to a great meal prepared for you in joy and love, and it’s all for our own good anyway.

My kids were miserable when they were focused on the duty and they are happy now that they are focused on the relationship.  God wants what’s best for his people, and it turns out that is obedience.

Not Simply Obedience

But it’s not simply obedience.

Simple obedience is for the simply religious, and they are miserable.  It’s joyful obedience that God is after and that will be a blessing to us.  In verse 16 of the Deuteronomy 10, it says 

Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer.

Circumcision was a duty for the people of God and if they understood it only as an obligation, they’d be stiff-necked.  God certainly didn’t want disobedience, but silent and grudging obedience wasn’t any better; he wanted their hearts so that we can flourish.

Human flourishing is not about freedom, nor is it about fulfilling religious obligations, it’s about relationship.

 

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