Who Or What Are You Obedient To?
As a Christian, this is an important question to ask
yourself. Am I obedient to a set of religious practices, going to church, a
religious system? Obedience to any of these things is not the same as being
obedient to the Will of God.
I know this may be shocking to some of you. Doesn’t a “good
Christian” go to church every Sunday, read their Bible every day, and tithe 10%
to the church? I’m sure most religious institutions would not argue with any of
these, especially the last one.
But obedience to the church is not the same as obedience to the
Will of God. Obedience to a set of daily spiritual practices is not the same as
obedience to the Will of God.
It’s not that prayer, meditation, and reading the Bible are
pointless activities. The problem is mistaking our goal of an unbroken streak
of hours of meditation every day for the Will of God. It’s also a problem when
devotion to our spiritual practices leads us to feel pious and holy and somehow
more special than others. On the flip side, it’s a problem when we think that
our shoddy church attendance or our inconsistent Bible study helped lead to an
unfortunate situation in our life…as if enough prayer, enough Bible reading, or
enough church attendance will ensure we always make the right decisions and bad
things won’t happen to us.
All of these things can help you strengthen your connection
to God, deepen your conviction to follow the Will of God, and help you discern
how to do it. But they are a means to an end, not the end itself.
What, then, does it look like to be obedient to the Will of
God? As Christians, we need look no further than the life of Jesus. He was a
shining example of obedience to the Will of God.
Jesus prayed but did not spend all His time in prayer. He
read and taught scripture in the synagogue, but He did not spend all His time
in the synagogue, nor did he suggest that anyone else should.
Jesus was out among regular people. He was teaching, healing
and being kind to everyone, even to the religious people who saw Him as a
threat. He was a prophet who put His faith into action, doing His part to make
the world a better place.
This is what we are called to do. We are called to a
spiritual life that transforms us, not just for the sake of transformation, but
so that we can do our part to heal this broken world.
Sister Joan Chittister says it so beautifully in
her book, "The Time is Now: A Call to Uncommon Courage.”
Our task is to be obedient all our lives to the Will of God for the world. And therein lies the difference between being good for nothing and good for something. Between religion for show and religion for real. Between personal spirituality that dedicates itself to achieving private sanctification and prophetic spirituality, the other half of the Christian dispensation.Yes, the Christian ideal is personal goodness, of course, but personal goodness requires that we be more than pious, more than faithful to the system, more than mere card-carrying members of the Christian community. Christianity requires, as well, that we each be so much a prophetic presence that our corner of the world becomes a better place because we have been there.
There is no lack of need in any part of the world. In fact, in many parts of the world, the need is desperate. What does your corner of the world need? And when you are done praying, how will you respond to that need?
By Sibling Michelle "MJ" Johnston, CFA