Does life get better when you disobey your Lord?
The warming of our planet’s atmosphere and oceans has become a major concern. We are becoming more aware that each of us leave behind a “carbon footprint,” a measure of how much greenhouse gas we produce that may well be fundamentally changing our living environment.
Brian Lowery, in a sermon entitled “The Inconvenient Truth of Sin,” found himself wondering about another destructive footprint we each may leave behind by the wake of our living. He noted, “For every act of rebellion–every vicious word, every selfish act, every unhealthy state of mind — we press a footprint on the wide, growing path of spiritual destruction. The world will never be the same again–and not for the better.”
THINGS WE EASILY DISMISS
You may be a climate-change doubter. So be it. I’m not a scientist, and I’m still trying to figure it out. You also may be a “sin-change” doubter. You may dismiss the idea that your personal disobedience to the Lord doesn’t really have an impact on anything or anyone around you.
You’ll excuse me, but if you are the latter, you’re a self-deceived fool.
As a pastor who often gets a look at the way those who claim to be Christians live, I’d say you have a lot of company. There’s a destructive, deeply damaging viewpoint taking hold in many a Christian’s life. It’s the view that life is better, at times, when you choose to disobey the Lord. When you choose to ignore the Lord. When you choose to dismiss what His Word is calling for.
I call it the “life through disobedience” (LTD) philosophy.
It’s an approach to Christian living that asserts that there are things the Lord asks us to do which make life worse. Things to obey that are unreasonable. This LTD (“life through disobedience”) approach has even concluded that when you come to that point where you simply must disobey rather than obey — for reasons that are very important to you and your perceived chance at happiness — that the Lord himself is actually OK with disobedience. He doesn’t stress over it. He just wants you to be happy…as you understand happiness. If obeying makes you unhappy, your happiness is more important than obeying.
Not surprisingly, a Christian will receive a great deal of support in this LTD approach, especially from non-Jesus followers who (in general) don’t give obeying the Lord first even a second thought. Again, immediate happiness…not obeying the Lord…is the highest priority.
RATIONALIZING SINCE THE LORD “UNDERSTANDS”
You wouldn’t believe the number of times I’ve heard a Christian say, “The Lord understands…” (referring to his/her choice to disobey).
I think, “He understands what?”
If the thought is, “He understands why I have to disobey, and He’s OK with it,” then I don’t know what sacred text you are reading.
He certainly wasn’t OK with Eve and Adam’s disobedience. He certainly wasn’t OK with Moses’s disobedience (consequence: Moses was not allowed to enter promised land). He certainly wasn’t OK with Saul’s disobedience (Saul lost his kingdom refusing to obey). He certainly wasn’t OK with David’s disobedience, Solomon’s disobedience, Peter’s disobedience, Ananias and Saphira’s disobedience. Need I go on?
In fact, I can’t find anywhere in the Bible where the Lord says, “Yep, I’m good with YOU disobeying because I understand your unique need to disobey.”
OUR LORD’S MODEL – HE OBEYED THROUGH THICK AND THIN
“I am always doing the things which please my Father,” Jesus declared. Not boastfully, but in order to underscore that there is only true life through Spirit-empowered obeying of God’s word…even when it is tough.
Even when your unbelieving friends don’t get it or refuse to applaud you.
Even when it calls for something from you that may be more unhappy in the short run…but has every possibility of bearing the fruit of joy and righteousness in the long run.
Is there anything the Lord and His word has been calling you to obey which you have conveniently rationalized away?
There is no true life through disobedience. It doesn’t yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness (cf. Hebrews 12:11) that only comes through the training of obedience.
Obey the Lord. He understands how much life there is in what He calls us to do.