Quiet Obedience

And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
Mark 2:14

Matthew Henry, in his commentary on this scripture wrote, “It is probable that Matthew was but a loose extravagant young man, or else, being a Jew, he would never have been a publican.  However Christ called him to follow him. . . With God, through Christ, there is mercy to pardon the greatest sins, and grace to sanctify the greatest sinners.  Matthew, that had been a publican, became an evangelist, the first that put pen to paper, and the fullest in writing the life of Christ. Great sin and scandal before conversion, are no bar to great gifts, graces and advancements after; nay, God may be the more glorified.” (early 18th c.)
 
I read an interview today.  It was about a really bright young man who was living one ugly life (he might not have said it was ugly; there were things he liked about it).  He went to prison because of his ugly life. When he was there, he found a Bible in the trash can.  As he began to read it, he couldn’t square his life with what the Bible said.  He knew it was “ugly life that I like” vs. God.  God won.  Christ called him.  And he rose up and followed him.

I love stories like these, don’t you? They are the stories the stuff of our faith is made of.

It’s good and important to remember that God’s call is personal–you have been called and so have I–even if our stories may be of a quieter kind.  The story of God’s people has always gone thus: He has called us and (thanks be to God!)–we have rose and followed him.

“Tis not that I did choose thee, for, Lord, that could not be;
this heart would still refuse thee, hadst thou not chosen me.
Thou from the sin that stained me hast cleansed and set me free;
of old thou hast ordained me, that I should live to thee.” 
Josiah Conder, 1836
~Danyale Tamminga
“And if you hand us the heavy cup, the bitter one, of sorrow, filled to the highest brim, then we take it thankfully, without trembling, from your good and loving hand.”  D. Bonhoeffer

Christ Comes to Us to Do God’s Will

For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
John 6:38

Jesus acknowledges more than once, as a man, His will may differ from the will of the Father.  Yet His perfect obedience to the will of God becomes mediation for us, as we prove again and again our lack of obedience.  We want to have things our way and try to bend God to our desires.

As John Calvin wrote, “Christ is a pattern of perfect obedience… that all who are His may contend with one another in imitating Him, that they may together respond to the call of God and that their life may exemplify this saying, ‘Lo, I come.'”

And from Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “Being a Christan is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.”

~Emily Gibson

Highway Construction

Isaiah 40:3-5
A voice cries out, “In the wilderness clear a way for the Lord; construct in the desert a road for our God. Every valley must be elevated, and every mountain and hill leveled. The rough terrain will become a level plain, the rugged landscape a wide valley.  The splendor of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it at the same time. For the Lord has decreed it.”

The words of this passage, though very familiar to me, were not ones about which I had thought clearly.  To whom is the call of verse 3 directed?  Who will prepare the way for the Lord?   In other places in Scripture, it seems that God himself prepares the way for his people.  See for example Isaiah 11:15-16, Isaiah 42:16, Isaiah 43:16.  Then again, in the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, it is John the Baptist who is the voice calling from the desert, challenging those who came out to hear him to repent, thereby creating a road ready for the coming Savior.  So is the road builder God?  John? God’s wayward people?  Or someone else?

These verses must be viewed against the backdrop of the history of God’s people.  God had indeed delivered his people by making a straight path through the Red Sea.  Once through that sea, with the enemy behind destroyed, those people had a short journey ahead to the promised land. But due to their disobedience, they turned a short trip on the expressway into forty years of wandering in the desert, a journey on which nearly all died.  What began as God’s straight way became his stiff-necked people’s deadly labyrinth.

But now comes Christ, the one to whom Isaiah and John pointed.  In Christ, God and his people are joined.  God makes the straight way and his obedient son, the new Israel, makes the way straight.  After John preached his gospel of repentance in the desert, no less than Jesus himself comes out to him to be baptized, to go through the water into the wilderness.  There he was tempted for 40 days.  But he did not wander.  The path he blazed was one of obedience–a path through the wilderness of sin, to Jerusalem; yes, even to the cross.  There he was lifted up and we, sinners all, beheld his glory.

So who makes the straight way?  God?  God’s people?  Yes, in Christ, yes, where God and his people are met in one.

So repent and believe.

~Dan Gibson

Walking in Obedience

Jeremiah 7:23
Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you.

We like to subsist on a Hollywood diet of stories of fated destinies.  We like to think our feelings could direct us well.  God’s way indicates a different type of “destiny”:

“Follow me,” he tells us.
“Seek me if you wish to find me.”
“Draw near to me and I will draw near to you.”

We desire a life of wellness.  God’s economy doesn’t promise prosperity, yet he invites us to walk in obedience to whatever unknown end.
In his Son, we see, in the flesh, the promise of God’s unending faithfulness if we approach the manger and the cross with the same devotion.  Walking with Jesus becomes the ultimate wellness that is our destiny.

~Breanna Siebring