obedience better than sacrifice

Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
    as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

There are important, helpful spiritual disciplines for us, learned from tradition which is rooted in scripture. Solitude, silence, chanting scripture, praying the Jesus prayer as well as the Lord’s prayer, etc., etc. There are all kinds of things we do as Christians: attending church, giving regularly to the church and God’s work in the world, reading the Bible and praying, witnessing to others of our faith in Christ and the gospel. But what good are all these things if on something or other we’re holding out and not obeying the Lord?

Culture can help us sidestep obeying Jesus and his commands. It is not fashionable, for example, to turn the other cheek when we are struck, to bless those who curse us, and pray for those who despise us. Even Christians advocate carrying or owning guns, though they do so as only a last resort to stop an evildoer bent on violence. But Jesus’ way, counterituitive and countercultural as it is, is to take the way of the cross always, no matter what. That is the only way for the follower of Jesus.

Any expression of the Christian faith which does not make much of obedience and specifically of obeying the commands of Christ falls short of carrying out God’s will in Jesus. I’m afraid a cultural expression of the faith has made this not only possible, but easy, in fact hard not to do, the norm.

One other example: Christ commands us to be reconciled to our brother or sister before we worship in presenting an offering to God:

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

It doesn’t matter if we like them or not. We are to be reconciled, period. We are so accustomed not to obeying all the commands of Jesus that I doubt that a majority of Christians are even aware of this command of our Lord.

And so let’s forget about any grandiose ideas we have in serving God. Rather let’s humbly give ourselves to obedience out of love in response to God’s love in Jesus, together for the world.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s