It’s the stuff of sitcoms: the authority figure leaves the scene with one final instruction: “Don’t push that button,” or “Don’t drink the wine.” Halfway through the comedy, the rule is broken, the cover-up begins, hilarity ensues. It’s inevitable, right?
I suspect many people have the same view of their relationship with the Heavenly Father. From the very beginning, God is the one who is absent, the one who leaves behind some kind of warning: “Don’t eat from the fruit from this one tree,” or, “Don’t engage is this (or that) activity.” We are the screw-ups in a mad-cap cosmic comedy: eating, drinking, messing up and covering up. It’s inevitable, right?
Except we give such a viewpoint more respectable, religious, language. We are simply “miserable sinners,” constantly in need of grace and forgiveness, provided without measure by Jesus Christ. It’s inevitable, right?
It’s true--his mercy and grace flow unending, constantly meeting our need. Yet many followers of Jesus find themselves trapped in what Dallas Willard calls Miserable Sinner Theology: our destiny is constant failure; his ministry is unending forgiveness. When we limit the work of Jesus to nothing but forgiveness, we lose sight of the possibilities of experiencing a new kind life with him here and now.
This week’s meditation finds it’s source in two passages and two questions:
Passage One: “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.” (Deuteronomy 30: 11 - 14)
Passage Two: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28: 18-19)
Question One: Is obedience possible?
Question Two: Is Jesus the kind of person who would demand of us something we can never give?