The Freedom to Obey

If you are willing and obedient,
     you will eat the good things of the The Freedom to Obeyland . . .
     — Isaiah 1:19

I was speaking with a friend who was a pastor and he was telling me why his congregation was so small. He explained the reason that his church was so unpopular was because he told people things that they didn’t want to hear. For example, he said he told people that they had to obey God and that they couldn’t just do whatever they felt like doing.

“Rabbi,” he said sadly, “people these days don’t want to be told that they can’t do whatever they want.”

It’s true. Even as we celebrate the unprecedented freedoms that much of the world enjoys, we have to acknowledge the risk that people can lose any sense of responsibility or obedience to God. The notion that “anything goes” is a popular one in our world today. The idea that we are bound to a higher power is not as well accepted. The concept that God’s will comes before our own is a pill that’s hard to swallow for many well-intentioned individuals.

The irony is that when we are obedient, we ultimately gain. We are better off listening to God’s Word instead of our own impulsive feelings. As Proverbs puts it, “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land.” If we want to experience and have the good things life has to offer, then we need to be willing to submit our will to God’s will. The more we put aside our own egos, the more we will personally benefit from God’s blessings.

Anyone can rationally appreciate that the Creator knows more about His creation than the creation knows about itself. For example, if I painted a picture, I would know more about the painting than the painting would. If I created a computer program, I would know how to use it better than it knows how to work itself. Even if I created a robot to do certain things and serve a particular purpose, I would understand better how it should function than it would understand itself.

As the prophet Isaiah wrote, “You turn things upside down,as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘You did not make me’? Can the pot say to the potter, ‘You know nothing’?” (Isaiah 29:16).

So why would anyone think for even a moment that we know better than our Creator how we should live and what we should do? Certainly the One who made us knows what is best for us.

While submission goes against our grain, especially for those who fought for civil rights and freedom for all humanity, we must remember that the greatest freedom is to serve our God in the way He intended. Let’s remember that truly our Father knows best, and we only stand to benefit when we put aside our own desires for the sake of His Kingdom.

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