“Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, we ought to obey God rather than men.” Act 5:29.
But what of our obedience? A key may be in the Psalmists words “For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. Instead, The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Psalm 51:16-17 A burst spirit, and a burst and collapsed heart is God’s answer to sacrifice? Is this obedience?
Well, God is said to dwell with the humiliated, to revive them; with those crushed to powder, to do the same. Isaiah 57:15. God is done with ritual and symbols, shadows and anti-types. The “good things to come” of Hebrews have come in Christ. But, His obedience was not religion, but a life poured out, a life tasting death, a life willfully laid down. Friends, this, and only this can re-ring the decomposed man.
Only a dying can bring a resurrection, and us living “dead ones” desperately require more than a religious routine, but “the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead” must enter our soul. A raising from the dead is our need.
I was made aware of a story of a saint who lost a close family member to death. Watching him die, viewing him dead, witnessing his body descend into the cold hard clay, remembering his life – these will reduce a survivor in degradation. These “touchings of death” bring heartache yes, but also shame. In the story, the beautiful still-living loved one, guilt ridden, refused ministering. Why?
In this case it was not just the hurting, the loss, the grieving. In addition was the embarrassment of the debasing, disgrace and humiliation. Their life had never tasted such, but prior, in hyper states, had always over-exaggerated a false reality, a utopia, a trance of self-protection-from-hurt.
In that misty miasma, nobody ever gets a face rubbed in the muck. Nobody in that dynatopia does or witnesses despicable, horrifying, and shameful things. Nobody becomes so mortified, embarrassed with guilt, or dishonored, that they would need special help. Of course we friends do our best to soften the blow of such experiences. But now, a whole world has fallen apart, a life burst, a heart collapsed. The mock of life unveils, the ridicule; we are being made fun of.
Toward this mere human person still-living, to this precious one, to this shamed one, to this broken, does the true obedience form a goal. Someone else’s obedience must sample that same hell, go through the degrade, savor the disgrace, and eat the plate of horror. By this one all of degradation’s best shot is battled with, ignored, and overcome for this submissive act; hell is indeed defeated this day. Death is tasted for every man, because men feared death all their life. It is Christ and His obedience that we speak of.
So, what of our obedience? Better than sacrifice? Our obedience is born in something sacred, something cherished, spoken of above. It begins a shoot of green leaf, a sprig of growth, a sapling. Never much do we ever weigh our submission against what He did for us. Never do we proudly esteem our compliance as comparing to His. We are yielding in a gaze to His obedience, bringing our thoughts captive to His obedience.
In closing, now, at the turning upside down of our experience, in our own hades-facing, at the dirt eating of filth’s impositions on us, we discover a Savior, Christ the Lord, and we find Him down there; with us. His presence turns that smutty hole into a high and holy place.