Deciding for Ourselves Whether to Obey God in Each Situation

Continued from here.

As I shared in my last blog entry, I made the observation a long time ago that God’s ways are simple while the World’s ways are complex, but I did not know why this is the case. Knowing this distinction was helpful because I knew whenever my views became complex on a topic, I was probably moving away from God’s view, so I needed to redirect, review what God’s Word has to say on the topic, and return to simplicity. I did not understand why this was the case, only that following this principle helped me stay better aligned with God’s will.

I am reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book Discipleship for my upcoming Discipleship class, which provided the “why.” Bonhoeffer pointed to the Garden of Eden, where Satan led Eve to question God’s simple command not to eat the fruit from a particular tree. The original sin causing the Fall of Man was Adam and Eve wanting to decide for themselves whether or not to eat the fruit instead of obeying God, and Satan tempted them to disobey God through complicating a simple instruction: Don’t eat this fruit. This pattern has continued throughout the history of mankind.

Why do we complicate God’s simple instructions? Bonhoeffer said it’s because we want to decide for ourselves whether or not to obey God in each particular situation. As an example, he pointed to the Good Samaritan parable, which began with an expert in the law asking how to inherit eternal life. Jesus directed him to God’s commands: Love God, and love your neighbor. Simple enough. The expert tried to complicate the issue by asking who his neighbor is, and Jesus’ response pointed him back to God’s simple commands.

Why did the expert try to complicate something as simple as “love your neighbor?” Because he didn’t want to obey God by loving everyone. He wanted to decide for himself whether to love each person he encountered rather than simply love because God said to do it. And don’t we do the same thing? If my child abusers are not my neighbors, then I’ve found a loophole around having to obey God by loving them. By adding complication, I seek to remove my responsibility to obey God in situations where I don’t want to do so.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cover of Discipleship. Courtesy Amazon.]