Many of us have been taught to net out our relationship with God in two words— trust and obey.
Trust God. Do what he says.
Could anything make more sense than the thought that our Creator God deserves our trust and obedience?
Yet we all live in the shadow of another reality.
At Sinai, and then again on the threshold of the the Promised Land, the people of God tell Moses and Joshua, “We will do everything you tell us to do.”
(Exo 19:8) (Exo 24:7) (Jos 1:16)
But they don’t.
And I don’t. Instead I wonder whether I have ever loved God with all of my heart, or my neighbor as myself.
So what then are we to do with the thought that nothing makes more sense than to do what our God asks us to do?
Seems like there is a starting point in something we’ve talked about before. When we look closer at the word “obey” we find that the first meaning of the primary Hebrew and Greek words for obey and obedience is “to listen—as when someone gives attention to the knock on the door to see who’s calling.” (see i.e. Thayer’s Lexicon). The implication is action– but not without attention and discernment.
An example of this shows up in the meaning in the famous Hebrew confession (Shema’) “Hear O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD.” (Deut 6:4). The word “Hear” is the same word that often is translated as “obey”.
When we bring that thought forward all the way to the last book of the Bible we find a resurrected Lord saying, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev 3:20).
At this point, we know something of the heart of the one who urges us to come to him with all of the heaviness of our concerns and failures… (Matt 11:28-29)…
Would he be insulted if he heard us say something like, “O Lord, I’ve done it again. I’ve been so quick to think about your words… and so slow to want to hear your heart… so quick to assume that I knew the right thing to do… and so slow to remember that it is only in your loving, merciful patience and grace, that my desire to please you becomes one with your desire to leave me grateful…”