Abbey and I had an awesome conversation today about the nature of obedience, so I've asked her to contribute to the blog! Thought you all might enjoy a different perspective for a change. Enjoy!
"Over the last two years, I've had a pretty major revelation that has shifted my entire relationship with Jesus. I've always had a personal relationship with Christ, felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and understood Biblical Truth, but I still stumbled and fell and didn't know why. I saw people all of the time that I knew were solid Christians and believed the same things I did, but they kept doing wrong and making choices that hurt them. I couldn't figure out why my foundational beliefs didn't stick. I used to have a list of 'I will never...', but when it came down to it, it didn't hold up. I knew better. I knew how wrong it was. Why did I backslide? Why couldn't I hold on to what I believed?
So today Emily and I were having this awesome conversation that ended in this huge revelation, which happens a lot. We were talking about how a strength in our relationship is that we are able to bring issues to each others' attention and be honest with one another without the fear of offending the other person. Emily was talking about how her stomach hurt (again), and I said, "Maybe it's because you're lactose intolerant. Maybe you shouldn't be drinking milk."
It got us talking about how hard it is to be in a relationship with someone who will not allow you to hold them accountable. Emily just takes the suggestions I give her and assimilates them into the way she looks at things. And I do the same. She doesn't go off into this defensive, victim-mentality place where she justifies why she has to drink milk, all the reasons that giving up milk would be impossible, and how unfair it is that she can't have it. And she doesn't swing to the other side where we're sitting in a restaurant and the waitress comes up and asks her if she wants a milkshake for desert, and she says no because she doesn't want to make me mad. It's not co-dependent in the way that she's choosing to abstain from milk because she's afraid of how I'll judge her. She handles my input like an adult because we're friends. We have a fairly healthy relationship, and she knows that I don't want her to be sick. So she is able to take that and make her own decisions based on what she knows will be ultimately best for her. And if she choses to drink milk and be sick, she's ready to deal with the consequences.
I realized that on a grander scale, that's what shifted in my relationship with God. I began to pursue His heart and started to ask Him where I fit in the story. Who am I to him - me personally, Abbey. In a healthy, functional relationship vs. a dysfunctional relationship, you care about that person and you know they care about you. So when they bring something to your attention it's not from a place of guilting and lording over you, it's from a place of genuine care for your well-being. As I got closer to God's heart, I started to understand His motivations for the guidelines He has placed in my life. I had never had a revelation of God's heart for me, so my convictions didn't stand up. They were based out of a 'not wanting to make God mad... mostly'. And it went both ways. As I saw that God's law and the way that He operates are out of place of wanting what is best for my personal well-being - that it is good intentioned, like a great friend - I began to obey out of a motivation of not wanting to hurt His heart. Because I kind of dig Him. And He has shown me so much Grace over and over, even when I've made mistakes, even when I've taken my own road. He's not asking me to prove anything, it's all about true, unconditional love. And that's a solid motivation for doing the right thing. My convictions are unshakeable because I understand how He works. The 'why' behind everything.
So Emily thought that was cool and asked me to write about the differences between the unsteady 'Bible-school-answer' convictions I had before and the rock solid things that motivate my life now. What was missing was understanding God's heart. You can have rules and regulations, truth and even Holy Spirit conviction, but if you don't understand God's heart and who He is, then it won't hold up under pressure.