Single- Minded Obedience
Bonheoffer argues that faith in Christ is the most important, but we are also called to “single-minded obedience”. It’s not an either/or proposition. We are called to single-minded obedience through faith in Jesus Christ. Faith should cause in us single-minded obedience; it’s not the cause of human effort, but a product of divine grace. Jesus calls us to trust him completely, to turn our back on the ways we have been operating to live in the Kingdom here-and-now. Faith is not about a ticket to some celestial garden, but about bringing heaven down to earth. Faith is not about huddling safe inside a moldy old church, but getting out in the world and being the church.
Brennan Manning writes, “Faith is not the sum of our beliefs or a way of speaking or a way of thinking; it is a way of living and can be articulated adequately only in a living practice. To acknowledge Jesus as Savior and Lord is meaningful insofar as we try to live like he lived and to order our lives according to his values. Only a true practice of our Christian faith can verify what we believe.” Bonheoffer claims the whole of scripture “summons us to follow Jesus.” He goes on to warn us from “doing violence” to scripture by interpreting it into abstract principles rather than doing what it says. When Jesus says to love your neighbor and forgive and not to judge that is exactly what you are to do if you are to be a Jesus follower. In The Signature of Jesus Manning quotes Modern-day hermit Carlo Caretto, “God gives us the boat and the oars, but then tells us, ‘It’s up to you to row.’ Making positive acts of faith is like training this faculty; it is developed by training as the muscles are developed by gymnastics.”
Bonheoffer lists all kinds of “excuses” or “evasions” for obedience. The excuse I find myself using the most is that I am not that well off financially as some, if only I had money I would use it to benefit others. In addition, I don’t have time; it would take more time than I have. I also use my reading habits to come between me and obeying God’s word. I all too often use my book as a barrier between the world and me. It takes effort to put down my book and be a Christian. I think biggest way of checking ourselves from making excuses for obedience is self-awareness, to know where you are being called to step forward and taking those steps. All the theorizing in the world will not put a scrap of food before the hungry; soothe the soul of the lost and unloved; or safety and security for the orphan and widow.
We assure that our obedience is for the right reason by and through bible study and prayer and that we are not doing it to look good in the eyes of others, but that we feel called to do good. I think that it’s all about the why of what we are doing it. Our intention for acting is more crucial than what we are doing. If we do good deeds to point to towards ourselves or earn salvation than we are doing it for all the wrong reasons, but if we do it out of a deep sense of gratitude for the grace and love that has been extended to us and to Glorify God than we are doing it for all the right reasons.
We need to ask where our heart is to find the reason why we are doing it.
Manning says, “There is a radical incapability between human respect and faith in Jesus Christ.”
I want to be like Jesus. I don’t know yet what that all entails, but I am learning. I will continue to seek Jesus, because I know for me he is the way, life and light. I do know as Paul says in his letters that dying to self daily will lead into deeper communion with Jesus. Jesus taught that when the eye is single the whole body will be full of light.