Rethinking Obedience

I tend to think of obedience as something that I will myself to do. I decide to obey God, to follow him, to turn away from sin and move toward him. Somehow God is working to change me and make it easier for me to obey, but ultimately it is an act of the will, a stout and resolute stand against sin. Of course there are times when you run like a frightened rabbit from sin, but still, there is a conscious choice, the bending of my will to be obey God and live in righteousness. I’m not so sure about that right now.

It could be some scripture I read, a passage from The Joyful Christian by C.S. Lewis, or maybe the stretch of time that I was alone while Julie went to Maine, but somehow I’ve completely redefined obedience.

Lewis makes a point in a short essay that God forms us into something new, or essentially a new kind of creature. The passage I read this morning had the sense of God remaking us behind the scenes, somehow out of the grasp of our rational minds.

And while Julie was away I found myself very aware of my thoughts. It seems that whenever I want to sin, I just do it. I think mean thoughts about people, get angry, etc. It just happens. I’m in the middle of it all when I realize what I’m up to and then it seems that trying to resist it is futile. Sin, like the substance the oozes from dogs, just happens.

And yet, I think the same can be said of obedience. God transforms us somehow. Whether we’re sitting in silence before him, reading his word, praying with others, or typing on the computer, God is at work. In fact, I’m not so sure if I can call it the work of God if I can explain it. The simple fact that I’ve found in my life is that I just end up sinning less or certain patterns just break down. Old sins that used to slither up and snatch me seem to just retreat, losing their comfort and appeal.

For example, the my petty anger that was the bane of my college existence has simply been stomped out. I still get angry, believe you me. But I don’t feed on it and let it fester. It just doesn’t have the same appeal.

In certain cases I think that sin becomes to Christians what smoking a cigarette is to a homeschooled Fundamentalist. It’s not that he/she even has to fight against doing it. It simply doesn’t connect or compute. There is no desire or will and in many cases it doesn’t even cross his/her mind.

That seems to be the only way that God sanctifies and frees me from sin. I’m still amazed at all of the sin that runs about unchecked in my life, but some of my guilt and striving has been relaxed lately. God just has to do it. I may sin a lot more in the process, but I’m pointed in the right direction and have the Spirit as my guide. I’m not sure how it’s happening, but somehow, it’s just better that way.