Monday, January 10, 2011

Finding Our Identity Through Obedience

Over the last two or three decades, we’ve gone soft on obedience. 

I know why. We don’t want to burden folks with feelings of guilt and anxiety.

But you know, though very few of us preachers give the fire and brimstone sermons anymore, I still see a lot of worry and shame. After all the sermons of love, grace, and the assurance of heaven, people are wound tighter than ever.

I’ve decided guilt and anxiety are simply a part of the human equation. In a positive context, they can get us up and moving. In its negative form, if we wallow in them, we get spiritually (and mentally) ill.

Like a nurse that urges the patient to get up and walk in order to get better, I need to be doing the same with people. Obedience is often the solution to illness.

Our actions define us. In large part, they’re where we find our identities. For years I’ve heard people say it is bad to define ourselves this way. Really? How else do we grow into the persons we are supposed to become?

When the children are small we teach them what they are supposed to do. We give out awards when their actions are laudable. We rebuke them when they do wrong. We teach them what to do so when they are grown they will be strong, confident, and virtuous.

“By their fruits you shall know them,” Jesus said (Matthew 7:16-20).

By our deeds the King will know us: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, tending the sick, etc. (Matthew 25:31-46).

What about faith? What about the assurance of salvation? They’re there. They are gifts that allow us to do what we were created to do, which is to serve in God’s kingdom.

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