It is Better to Obey

Mon, 03/15/2010 - 14:54 — Carrie

Lots of things have been running through my head, lately. Some more prominent than others. Let's see if I can get some of them down in an orderly fashion. Tongue

Yesterday, in Sunday School, I was talking about Saul and his reign as king. I dwelt particularly on the well known story of his defeat of the Amalekites.
As you all know, he was instructed to destroy the Amalekites. Every man, woman, child and animal. And yet, when Samuel shows up at the end of the battle, he discovers that Saul has not obeyed God, but rather, has saved out the king of the Amalekites, and the finest of the livestock as well. When asked about the animal noises in the background, he makes the hasty excuse that "the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed."
This, of course, unimpressed Samuel, and he utters perhaps some of the most important words of the Old Testament. Something that Christ tries to get across to His followers time and again in the New Testament.
"Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams."

Now, obviously, God wanted His people to sacrifice. He wouldn't have told them to if He didn't. But therein lies the key. He *told* them to sacrifice. The Israelites were not supposed to sacrifice because it was in the law and they were obeying the law, they were supposed to sacrifice (and follow all the rest of the law, too) because *God* had given this law, and they must obey Him!

Okay, now we come to the point I am trying to make with all this background.

Luke 15:57-62
"And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto Him, 'Lord, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest.'
And Jesus said unto him, 'Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.'
And He said unto another, 'Follow me.' But he said, 'Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.'
Jesus said unto him, 'Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.'
And another also said, 'Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.'
And Jesus said unto him, 'No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.'

Jesus, in this passage, is calling for a complete and total commitment to Him and to the furtherance of His kingdom. There is no room for ourselves or our own concerns above the things of Christ.
The first man simply makes a commitment, which sounds great. Who wouldn't rejoice when a person expresses such a willingness to follow Christ anywhere? But Jesus' response shows us a bit more. It would seem that perhaps this man didn't understand the true cost of following Christ. Perhaps he saw the popularity of Jesus and thought it would gain him some fame and recognition if he were to follow Him. Jesus sets him straight by telling him that following Christ is no light matter.

The second man simply wants to go bury his father. Doesn't sound so bad, until you realize that, to the Jews, burying the dead was a huge deal. It was more important even than sacrificing in the temple. The only two things that were more important were if you'd taken the Nazarite vow, or if you were the high priest and were in the middle of your priestly duties.
Jesus is telling this man (or so I seem to interpret it) that this is something more important than even the burying of the dead. Not that burying the dead is wrong, but that his commitment to Christ needs to be the highest priority in his life.

It's a similar thing with the last guy. He wants to follow Christ, but it would seem that his family still holds the highest priority in his life. Christ plainly tells him that once committed to Christ, you can not look back to your old way of living. It kinda reminds me of Lot's wife.

To tie these two passages together…

A life lived for Christ needs to be a life completely lived for Him. We don't go around doing Christian things simply because we are following a list of rules or guidelines. We don't' obey Christ's examples for the sake of the examples themselves, we obey them because we are obeying Christ. There is nothing wrong with putting your family as a very high priority; neither is there anything wrong with properly caring for the dead. When the good things in life become more important that the best thing in life, that's when it becomes a problem. When we start sacrificing for the sake of the law, instead of for the sake of the giver of the law. Good works are an integral part of the Christian life. If you are a true Christian, you will necessarily do 'good works'. You will want to do good works. But you don't do them to look good, you do them because you want to please God, the giver of all things good.

On another (completely unrelated and entirely pointless) note…
Why do people say "there's a fork in the road" and then tell you which one to take? Didn't they just say there was *a* fork? Not two? When did one fork in the road become two distinctly separate forks? Shouldn't it be, "There's a fork in the road. Take the right side of that fork."?
That's a rhetorical question, by the way. Tongue

Good stuff

two pronged forks....don't hold much.


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