20.12.06

Yet because you say...

I have been meditating on the obedience of Simon the fisherman in Luke 5 and Naaman the leper in 2 Kings 5. In both cases, these men obeyed the word of God, not because they liked it, understood it, or agreed that it was the right way to do things, but simply because they accepted it as the word of God.

Jesus asked Simon to let down the nets for a catch even though he was a professional fisherman who had worked the waters all night. He obviously thought it was a futile endeavour, yet he obeyed and did it simply because Jesus had asked him to.

Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets." (Luke 5:5)

Elisha asked Naaman to dip seven times in the Jordan and be cleansed; he did not come and present himself to him, even though he was an important officer who had made a long journey to see him. Naaman was clearly offended by the prophet's actions, and dismissive of the endeavour asked of him. Yet he too obeyed, not because he understood the word, but because he submitted to it.

These men challenge me. Is my obedience limited by my understanding? Does the word of God have to be explained and dissected for me to grasp its mechanics before I will obey? Or is the fact that it is the word of God sufficient to provoke a response of submission and obedience?

We all know in part. If we only obey the commands we understand, the obvious implications are that we only obey in part to!

I'm not advocating that we fail to test prophecies, nor that we abandon our desire for understanding into the things of God. But at the end of the day, when God asks me to do something I don't fully grasp, it reveals something about me: whether I have a mind ruled by my spirit, or a spirit ruled by my mind.

10 comments:

dbriggins said...

I'm glad we have the example of Gideon. God really doesn't mind us asking "are you sure?" As long as the ultimate response is obedience.

Chris HH said...

Absolutely. Ananias in Acts 9 and Peter in Acts 10 are other great examples of this.

God knows our reservations whether we voice them or not. It's much better to take them to God, and allow him to deal with them.

jojo said...

I don't understand how you and Ricky can see eye to eye on theological issues. He is good at starting fires, but doesn't know how to quench them. You try to put out fires, yet a smoldering ember of doubt remains. He purports to seek pure truth, you seem bent on obedience. Have either of you guys tried reformed theology?

Chris HH said...

Hi, jojo.
As I mentioned on Ricky's blog, you are too quick to jump to conclusions!

Ricky is an old and good friend of mine who I have known since I was a wee lad.

We don't have to agree on every issue for me to consider him a friend, or to take an interest in what he writes.

Neither of us would claim for a moment to see eye to eye on every issue, but where we do I'm not afraid to say so!

My loyalty is to my friends and to the Word of God; no theological system, no matter how sound, can take the place of either!

Gavin White said...

Good Post Chris!

Ricky Carvel said...

Jojo,

Chris and I don't see eye to eye on a number of minor issues. But we both have the same Lord and God. There's loads of common ground there!

If you only have friends who have exactly the same beliefs as you then you probably have quite a dull life. It also seriously cuts down on your potential to spread the gospel!

The aim of my blog is not to start fires but to raise issues that either I have doubts about or issues that I don't think many Christians have thought through.

Professionally speaking, of course, I am equally adept at mitigating, suppressing and extinguishing fires as I am at starting them. ;o)

As far as trying a different theology is concerned, I'm not sure I want to. From my (non-theology-trained) perspective, any given theology is a certain way of looking at the nature of God. Its like viewing a mountain from a given viewpoint - the mountain is not changed by where you choose to view it from, but if you only ever look from the one place, you may miss out on all the other (equally valid) views of the mountain. It is entirely appropriate that some folk prefer the view from one viewpoint compared to another, but that doesn't make either viewpoint right or wrong. And for myself, I'd just quite like to climb the mountain rather than stand about merely looking.

Chris HH said...

Ricky, I like your theology analogy. I reminds me of a quote I came across when studying the work of Karl Barth at Bible college. I can't remember whether the quote is from Barth himself or another theologian giving a synopsis of his views. I've not been able to find the quote again, so from memory it goes something like this:

"The purpose of theology is to press in, down every available avenue of revelation, as far as is permissible, towards the unkowable nature of God."

The problem with some "theologies" is they have pressed in further than is permissible down some avenues and ignored others all together.

That's why its always better to stay faithful to the Word than any theological system. The Word is infallible, but even the best system of man is not.

Chris HH said...

I've located the actual quote now. It was another theologian's synopsis... but I was quite surprised to discover whose!

It is the job of theology to wrestle with the mystery of God, to press in on truth from all angles, as far as we are permitted to go, without going beyond what is revealed.

~ Chris Hamer-Hodges, Barth on the Trinity (Essay for Covenant College 1997)

Ricky Carvel said...

Wow! I'm impressed that you managed to mis-quote yourself! ;o)

And your words re-enforce that my blog is not theology, as I am quite happy to speculate about all sorts of things which go beyond that which is revealed in the bible (or elsewhere). But that is why I am happy to present such speculation as doubts and am not dogmatic about any of the 'out there' theories which I occasionally discuss.

Matthew said...

Chris, I would suggest we are in even more danger form theologies which do not allow us to press far enough.

Note the growing "orthodoxy" of dispensationalism: some who hold that theology cannot concede that anyone can be saved if they are not premillenial dispensationists.