Saturday, 16 July 2011

Personal Object Lessons - Obedience

“Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. “ Jeremiah 7 v 23

As I child I was often told - by my God-fearing parents - that “to obey is better than sacrifice.” (1 Sam 15 v 22) I seem to recall that this admonition was issued as a warning to avoid the inevitable punishment that would occur if I followed a certain course of action that went against their advice. There were many times that followed when I understood the wisdom of their words as I listened to the warning of Samuel.

With the passing years I have seen the need for obedience in certain things at particular times. It has been an interesting journey trying to decide who to listen to, who to obey and what instructions to follow.

Being obedient is not too difficult for us as social human beings; we follow instructions all the time because of the benefits that we get from doing so. A simple example is of the traffic light systems: we all adhere obediently to the commands in tri-coloured lights to stop, get ready to stop, or go. That’s because we know of the probable chaos that would ensue if we went against this edict.

How then do I obey God? What exactly does He expect from me today? There are so many questions surrounding correct behaviour according to Bible commandments and expected social behaviour that the main question for me is how do I answer them sufficiently well to ensure that I am obeying the word of God and not the diktats of man? (Acts 5 v 29)

In the Old Testament it is recorded that God gave Moses the Ten Commandments as a reminder of the guidance for behaviour that He desires us to live by. The first section of the Commandments is about our relationship with God, and the second portion is a set of instructions that God wants us to obey so that we can have the best relationships with each other. The central theme throughout these Commandments is love; love for God and love for each other.

It is because of love that God wants the best for us. We are promised salvation as a reward for our obedience. “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” (Heb 9 v 12)

In John 13 v 34 - 35 Jesus says “A new commandment I give unto you. That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one to another.” Jesus lived the perfect example of an obedient life full of love for His fellow man, and He was therefore in the ideal position to re-introduce this important aspect of obedience for us to live by.

God wants humanity to be reunited with Him permanently so it is His requirement that we obey His commandments - that are all based on His love for us. This matter of love has remained fundamental to all the things that God requires of us in the obedience stakes.

Why should we do what He says? Sometimes we ask questions before we follow the instructions. I know that some children (and some not so young people) are still motivated to act (or not) by the answer to the question “What’s in it for me?”

Relating to obedience to God, following His instructions for a happy earthly life and an everlasting eternal life, that question can be answered simply. “What’s in it for me?” “Eternal life.”

And the main instruction we have to remember, and a basis for all the commandments, is to love as Jesus loved.

©MHMorgan 2011

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Personal Object Lesson - Name? What’s in a name?

“... and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name.” Isaiah 62 v 2

Frequently when people enter into new relationships, such as marriage, they change their names to reflect their commitment to the union. The change of name can also be symbolic of an association of love.

In the Bible and throughout history there are many recorded examples of people’s names being change, of nations being renamed and whole bodies of people called by a common moniker.

Abram became Abraham after he entered into a covenant with God that made him the father of many nations (Gen 17 v 5), and Sarai, Abraham’s wife, in turn became known as Sarah – their names were altered by God (Gen 17 v 15).

We talk freely of the Twelve Tribes of Israel and oft times forget that Israel was previously named Jacob. Remembering the story of his name change gives an indication of the significance of the alteration – Jacob fought all night and never gave up his struggle (Gen 32 v 24 – 32). Before long the name Israel was not just the name of one man but it was also the title of a nation of people and a land as well.

Jesus also did some personal naming with his disciples; He gave Simon the surname Peter and he also gave the surname Boanerges (the sons of thunder) to James and John the sons of Zebedee (Mark 3 v 16,17). This particular type of naming indicated that they were selected for a special place in Jesus’ ministry.

Jesus’ actions made the relationship between Him and the disciples a family connection. Not long after the selection and renaming of these people had taken place Jesus’ mother and brothers came to find him. When they called Him He answered “who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked around about on them that sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.” (Mark 3 v 32-34)

Naming indicates a relationship just as much as the behaviour of a person does.

The first two gospels of the New Testament begin with the description of the person that they are talking about: “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matt 1 v 1) and “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” (Mark 1 v 1). Matthew begins with a genealogical list of all the ancestors of Jesus and in the final five verses it states, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: For he shall save his people from their sins. ... Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call him Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph ... called his name JESUS.” (Matt 1 v 23 -25) This was a fulfilment of prophecy found in Isaiah 7 v 15 and 9 v 6.

When the baby was born to be a servant to man the name Jesus signified His humanity, while Christ became the title of his status as a servant and the Son of God remained the designation of His divine nature. The names of Jesus give a direct link to His relationships with His fellow man and His heavenly Father.

The name ‘Christian’ indicates that one is Christ-like in nature and behaviour. People fight for this name and because of this name.

Sometimes different names are chosen by people who want their new name to reflect their understanding of a new identity and at other times the changed name is bestowed on a person.

Names are not just related to people, they are also related to objects, places and ideas. Names can reflect a set of beliefs and are clearly linked to individual and group identity.

So, what’s in a name? Everything.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...