Simple Obedience Part 1: It Makes No Sense

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
John 14:15

PerelandraIn his wonderful novel Perelandra, C.S. Lewis describes a world that is made up of rolling oceans, vast floating seaweed beds that can support humans, and fixed islands of land that tower into the sky. As Ransom – the lone human sent to this planet for a purpose unknown even to him – wanders this world, he comes into contact with one of the two only people who inhabit this world. Tinadril is searching and waiting for her husband, who has been driven off by a storm.

In the midst of the discussions and adventures that follow, Ransom asks the woman why she does not sleep on the fixed land. While she is allowed to walk on it, drink of the water that is there and eat of the fruit – at nightfall she must leave. Her only response is that she is forbidden to do so by God. “It makes no sense,” says Ransom. “What is the difference?” Her reply:

I think He made one law of that kind in order that there might be obedience. In all these other matters what you call obeying Him is but doing what seems good in your own eyes also. Is love content with that?

As the story unfolds, the fate of Tinidril and the entire world rests upon this obedience that just seems unreasonable.

Obedience to God often does make sense. We don’t commit murder because it is heinous to us, or we fear the consequences. We don’t steal or tell lies (at least under oath), or break any of the other “major” commandments. In reality, it makes simple sense to follow them.

True obedience, however, comes down to obeying when doing so does not make any real sense. Excuses like “Hey, we both wanted to” or “It is legal here” or “I can do what I want as long as I don’t hurt someone else” all too often are indeed true! If a utilitarian mindset drives our ethics and obedience, then of course if it works and feels good, then do it!

We are obedient to God because He loved us when we were unlovable. We follow His Law because that is our response in love. We trust that – while it might not make sense at the moment – God has a purpose for His commands. Our job is simply to follow.

Today’s quote is not a hymn (but should be!)

If God would have wanted discussion,
Then God would have “Let’s discuss it!”
Then you, me and God would have chat, to see what we would do.
But God didn’t say “Talk it over.”
So we ain’t gonna have us discussion.
And that my boys, is that.
-Noah in Two By Two

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