I often read the Bible with my smug pious face on. “Those silly disciples.” “Those rotten Pharisees.” “Those stupid Israelites!” “When will they learn?”
And, occasionally (though not often enough) I’ll snap out of my self-righteous pride, and realize that I’m just like them. Just like those silly disciples. Just like those rotten Pharisees. Just like those stupid Israelites. When will I learn?
That’s what happened reading Jeremiah 42-43,
5 Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the Lord your God sends you to us. 6 Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.”
I hadn’t read Jeremiah in a year…I didn’t remember the narrative. But you gotta know where this was going. They weren’t going to obey. I knew because I know enough about my own sinful humanity. I knew because I’m just like them.
“God, you just say what you want and I’ll do it.” That’s a well-worn path. Familiar. “Lead me, Lord! I’ll follow you anywhere! Just say the word!” I know the path well enough to know that it forks when God answers that prayer–when he tells you just exactly what he’d like for you to do.
…the insolent men said to Jeremiah, “You are telling a lie. The Lord our God did not send you to say, ‘Do not go to Egypt to live there,’ 3 but Baruch the son of Neriah has set you against us, to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans, that they may kill us or take us into exile in Babylon.” 4 So Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces and all the people did not obey the voice of the Lord, to remain in the land of Judah.
Yeah, that path’s pretty well-worn, too.
So this week I’ve been thinking about obedience. In some moments I think I’m pretty close. In others, it seems I don’t even know what it is.
“Lord, give me the grace to worship you with my obedience.”