Wednesday, April 27, 2011


We hate the word "obedience". When we are told to obey, we think of ourselves as prisoners of authority. When we are told to submit, we think of ourselves as abused. We wrongly assume that submission implies inferiority or diminished self-worth. (Despite the fact that Jesus submits himself to God the Father and is still equally God himself.)

So we reject any role that puts us under the authority of another. We bend and break rules in service to our self-absorbed agendas. If we're told to wait five minutes for something we want, we start inching toward it at 4 minutes and 30 seconds. We aim to take just a little more than our authorities give us, and want special treatment when we have broken the rules that all are expected to follow.

A few days each month I do some substitute teaching at the high school level, and this week I was reminded of the natural human tendency to resist obedience. A tendency that is only reduced by regularly PRACTICING obedience. Each school is a little different, but in parts of the town where students have had rougher lives at home, it becomes quickly evident that they have not yet been trained to obey.

Granted, it makes for a frustrating day for me, but the long term is much worse. If we don't learn to obey or submit to each other, how many jobs will we lose? How many relationships will we destroy? How many laws will we break? These kids (the worst of which were surprisingly seniors, this time) have no idea the pain and frustration waiting for them(and those they interact with) because of the patterns of rebellion they've become comfortable with. And any attempt to warn them of this only sounds like more lectures from "the man". Instead, they'll likely suffer needlessly, at odds with the world for the rest of their lives because of this lack of self-discipline, and pass those same tendencies on to the next generation.

I heard a little while back how one father answered his young daughter as she pointed to a prison they drove past and asked, "Daddy, what's that for?" In the simplest, and surprisingly most accurate words he could use in response, he said, "That's where they put the people who never learned to obey."

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