Pointless Obedience

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

I sat up in bed this morning, blinked at the light, tried to rub the grit out of my eyes, and thought about blogging. I don’t think very quickly when I’m groggy, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think honestly. In fact, the reduced ability to qualify, justify, and censor my thoughts might just make me a touch more honest than usual.

I don’t know why my mind turned to blogging first thing, but what I wondered was this:

If I knew that nobody was reading, would I continue to write out of obedience?

You see, I can track how many people are viewing which pages each day. Don’t get creeped out though; I can’t tell who is viewing what. If you’ve been obsessing over a particular post or you’ve checked several times in one day for new content, I won’t think you’re a stalker. Likewise, if you’re a friend of mine and you never read, I can’t be insulted because I have no way of knowing that you aren’t one of those anonymous page views!

Anyway, that initial sleepy thought was interesting for a couple of reasons. First of all, I’m not sure God ever told me I had to blog. Funny that I thought of it in terms of obedience or disobedience. The other thing is, it seems that I have the idea that God desires obedience for the sake of obedience. I mean, if nobody was reading, would God even want me to spend my time that way?

Now, I realize that God could have other purposes besides whatever present benefit there may be to readers. I know that processing and organizing thoughts for a blog post is helpful to me. I know that I could write something now that could bless someone later—and so on and so forth. But I’m pretty sure I didn’t have wasn’t capable of having any of those things in mind this morning.

It would appear that on some level I believe that when God calls me to obedience, it may or may not have any perceivable point. It is as likely as not to be some sort of test—without any discernible or tangible bearing on this life or eternity. My obedience has some secret, spiritual purpose that I may never be made privy to.

Don’t get me wrong—God certainly has that prerogative. And I’m not so proud as to think I will always see or understand God’s purposes. I should be committed to obedience even when I can’t understand why something is being asked of me. I have every reason to trust him.

But in examples I recall from the Bible, God nearly always has a very distinct and practical purpose for what he requires. (Just to be clear, I’m not dealing with the purpose of suffering or why God allows bad things to happen to good people. I’m thinking more about general moral and social mandates, or specific calls and directives for individuals.)

Abraham was required to pull up stakes and travel into the unknown because he was to be the father of a called out nation from which the Messiah would emerge.

Moses was to return to Egypt because he was God’s chosen instrument to emancipate Israel from slavery and lead them to the promised land.

The ten commandments reflect God’s values and promote right and healthy lifestyles, relationships, and perspectives.

The strange and difficult things the prophets were sometimes required to do communicated specific messages in an engaging manner.

Jesus’ radical discipleship requirements reveal God’s character and his interest in our hearts. Our obedience builds godly character in us, and allows us to be an accurate representation of God to the world.

Peter was launched way outside of his comfort zone and his theological sensibilities in order to bring the gospel to Cornelius & friends and to deepen his own understanding of God’s plan.

You get the point.

I guess I feel like I’ve rooted out one of those default ideas (from who knows where?) that never had a scriptural basis—namely that God’s mode of operation in my life is just as likely to have some mysterious, otherly, practically irrelevant ends as it is to serve a discernible and practical purpose.

I wonder how many of those default ‘God concepts’ I operate with on any given day?

Hopefully less and less all the time.  🙂

As to my original, sleepy-headed question to myself, I’d just have to pray and reassess if the day ever came when I was writing to no one.  As I said, I don’t think God specifically told me to blog. I suppose the obedience issue comes into play because blogging is a way that I can leverage my situation and abilities to serve (which is an expectation). It is a great way for a homeschooling mom with young children to reach out, connect with, and minister to others—without sacrificing investment in my family. But it is only one of many ways…

So now it’s time for you to make me feel better. Have you ever discovered defaults in your thoughts about what God is like or how he interacts with us that were of some mysterious origin quite outside of actual scriptural justification?

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2 thoughts on “Pointless Obedience”

  1. : ) I often think of God’s request for Abraham– “Give me your only son, Isaac”– when I’m thinking of obedience for reasons I don’t know. Sometimes my obedience may feel pointless, but God has a purpose in mind . . . even if it’s to get me to let go of what I think is good so that He can free me for something better. Sometimes it’s because I am holding on to things too tightly, and it’s getting in the way of me treating people the way God sees them.

    1. Em –
      Thanks for chiming in. True enough what you say, but as a point of curiosity…would you say that those times where obedience feels pointless are the norm or the rare exception? (I’m still thinking about this, Biblically and personally.)

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