This whole chapter devotes it’s crazy making to the idea that just doing the right thing is more important than why I do it. I completely get this idea…but I think I’m coming at it from the other direction. I have three kids and a full day of work every day. Sometimes it is more important to just do it than to worry about why you’re doing something. For the love of Pete already, will you just unload the dishwasher, and pick up the socks in the living room, and wash the toothpaste all the way out of the sink! Oh…I could keep going! Can I get all the stressed out moms out there to give me a high five!
But wait…let’s not get our arms in the air just yet. I’m sure there is something about this crazy maker that makes it crazy and therefore I should read past the chapter title:) Hmmmmmmm….ok…..here we go.
Just Do It
Put into spiritual terms, you’ll hear well meaning Christians say that “obedience” is the key to the Christian life. This can mean anything from worship, volunteering, fellowship to doing things as a family. On page 177 there’s a small little statement about how God is like the parent who stands over the questioning child and says impatiently…”Just do it!” But that would mean that God holds far more interest in our action than our motives.
- What right things are you doing right now for the wrong reasons?
- What unhealthy reasons, if any, are at the root of a too-busy schedule being filled with too many good activities?
In the end what we’re really talking about in the “Just Do It” expectation is the whole idea of obedience.
As the Bible Defines Obedience
Here’s a new piece of information that I didn’t know. The Bible defined obedience as “shema” “to hear, to attend to” This definition of obedience is used over 800 times in the OT.
The Biblical idea is this: when we hear, we respond. They go together. The Hebrew language doesn’t distinguish much between hearing and responding.
Exodus 24:7 “We will do everything the Lord has said; we will shema.”
Deuteronomy 6:4:8 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. [a] 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.”
Consider this on page 180. Not only do we “shema” God, but He “shemas” us. Isn’t it so nice to know that we can have a relationship with God that He spends just as much time hearing us and we do hearing from him.
Psalm 4:1 “Hear (Shema) me when I call to you, o my righteious God”
Psalm 34:17 “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears (shema’s) them; he delivers them from all their troubles.
We don’t see in the Bible the idea of hearing with out doing.
Obedience has a purpose
As we’ve seen above, the word “obedience” describes a relationship with God and us. We hear what He wants from us and then we respond. Obedience for obedience sake is not biblical. Obedience that helps us learn His ways that we can develop into His image is true biblical obedience. Obedience is a structure to train us in maturity. Obedience is our response to the fathering of God.
Consider these verses: Deuteronomy 5:33, 6:24 10:13.
- How do these commands train us in maturity?
Then as we grow our obedience changes. Our relationship with God as we mature, requires less and less structure.
- How is does this principle come to light when we think about the child-rearing we’ve done or witnesses?
Obedience for obedience sake has 6 problems.
- Substitutes sacrifice for true obedience.
Consider this statement from page 183: “Our sacrificial, giving, responsible acts are helpful to neither God nor us until we understand God’s mercy – being loved just as we are – and then return that love. When we do the right thing reluctantly out of a sense of fear that we might lose something, a fear that we might fall apart, a fear of disapproval, then we are not living freely. And no one can grow and flourish in a state of fear.
- Explain what Jesus is saying to you by His statement “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” Matthew 9:13
- Ignores the wholeness or integrity of a person.
We are created to be whole in body and spirit. We are meant to connect with each other and God at the same time. When we can do this we know what it really means to love god with our heart, soul, mind and strength. The “obey for the sake of obedience” idea promotes a split. We desire one thing but we do another.
- Are you going through the motions in your Christian faith 0 obeying because obedience is right, but you are somewhere else emotionally?
- Discourages a sense of responsibility.
Sometimes we are so concerned with pleasing people that we don’t take responsibility for our own actions.
Speaking from a middle child pleasing perspective…when we’re under this crazy-maker we feel like we aren’t free to ask “why.” Questioning is often seen as rebellious and defiant. Yet it’s often in the “why” that we form our own thoughts, gain the bigger picture, and begin to form this sense of responsibility in our decisions.
- Are you a people-pleaser? (Galatians 1:10)
- What problems has your people-pleasing caused?
- Promotes lying.
Hiding the resentment, resistance or rebellion that we feel by “just doing the right thing” is really just lying. We’re not telling the truth about our feelings.
- Do yo make a deliberate, thought-out, free choice to say “YES”, or do you lie about the “NO” inside you and say yes anyway?
- Denies our fallenness.
At its heart, “just do it” means that you have the ability to obey, you just don’t want to. The truth is that we often don’t obey because we are all sinners and we all fall short. The biggest BUT in the bible is this…there is hope for all of us who realize that we can’t live perfect lives. (Romans 7:15)
- When has your sinful nature kept you from obeying God?
- Devalues the power of the cross.
There is a safety net called GRACE. We have a safe place to struggle and not be condemned. Through the power of the cross we are able to live lives that are pleasing to God. Grace protects us from loss of love as we mature through trying and failing.
- What might happen in your life if you rested in the grace God gives you to make decisions?
We’ll end this chapter with this thought on page 191:
“There’s a better way. When we allow ourselves to work through our inner motives and conflicts about situations, we are more free to be autonomous (FREE, UNCONTROLLED), to take responsibility for our behavior, and to be truly free in Christ.”
If you’d like to join this study in real time…I’m teaching it at HopePark Wednesday Mornings & Thursday Nights. If you’re a Nashville local, the door is always open. We’re at 8001 Hwy. 70 South, just off I-40. Online at http://hopepark.com and on twitter @hopepark.
Me…well you can find me twittering @jodytodd.
Have a great week!
Questions and assigned quotes from the study by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend entitled “12 Christian Beliefs That Can Drive You Crazy.”