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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Practiced Obedience

 5-9So don't lose a minute in building on what you've been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can't see what's right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.
(2 Peter 1:5-8)

To our good character (moral choices), spiritual understanding (discernment), alert discipline (spiritual development), and passionate patience (endurance and stability), we are to add reverent wonder.  Reverent wonder really comes down to one key word: Obedience.  We are to incorporate into our live the moment-by-moment "habit" of obedience.  Obedience brings honor to God and acknowledges his presence in our lives.

In other translations, you may observe that this is translated as "godliness".  Godliness is the evidence that one is conforming to God's laws and wishes.  It is a sense of devotion to the control and direction of another - God.  Obedience is more than just conforming - it incorporates the idea of being "willing" to do what one is asked.  

Willingness is probably one of the biggest struggles we have as Christians.  We may even adhere to the idea that "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak".  In other words, we WANT to do what is right, but we DON'T do it.  The struggle between "US" and "GOD" is too great - we "give in" to the "US" because it is immediately satisfying, easier, or just plain selfish.  

One thing that surprised me when I explored the meaning of "obedience" is that is something that is PRACTICED.  It does not come easily!  We must do it over and over again.  A lifestyle of reverent wonder (godliness) is LEARNED.  We don't start out one day saying, "Today and forevermore I will be obedient to all God desires of me."  We may intend to live this way, but reality hits us about two choices into the day and we crash and burn!

The idea Peter is presenting is that of consistent and progressive obedience.  Obedience is practiced - therefore, it is progressive.  What we practice soon becomes easier and is something we embrace without much resistance.  Obedience is also consistent - we learn that a course of action yields a result that is rewarding, enjoyable, or simply put, good for us.  

With a strong foundation laid, we have an opportunity to begin to build upon that foundation.  Peter is directing us toward daily activity that produces this type of "learning" in our lives.  He is provoking us toward consistently embracing the thoughts, attitudes, and actions that will bring more of God's grace and wisdom into our lives.  Obedience is not immediate - it is a process. Remember, practice makes perfect - not the other way around!