Trust, obedience & happiness

I’m still greatly impacted by Rick Warren’s tweet on trust and obedience, a month after he sent it.

I’m increasingly convinced that trust and obedience are the sum total of both our life in Christ and our obligations as Christians. What I see in myself and in those around me, however, is conditional trust and obedience – ‘I’ll obey God if it will make me happy’ or ‘I’ll obey God when it makes sense [to me] to do so’. Of course, this is not trust or obedience at all, it’s saying that we know better than God:

Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. Proverbs 26:12

If trust were easy and obvious, if we could see all of the steps that God was going to take to fulfil his promises, it wouldn’t be called trust – it would be called foresight. If obedience clearly lead to personal happiness – if there were no perceived cost in obeying God – it wouldn’t be obedience, it would be obvious self-interest and selfishness would be our logical goal.

Trust and obedience is about clinging to the sovereign LORD at all times but especially when all hope seems lost, when life is bleak and relationships dry. Trust is saying to God:

‘I can’t see what you’re doing but I’m going to accept that you are in control. I’m going to accept that you’re the sovereign LORD who controls all things and works all things for your glory’.

Obedience is saying to God:

‘I’m going to put aside my selfish, short-term and corrupted desires and accept your commands, to trust that the way you designed me and the world around me is best for you, others and myself’.

How else can we understand the trust and obedience displayed by the ‘roll call of the faithful’ in Hebrews 11:1-40, none of whom received God’s promise in their lifetime, or the command to us that follows it?:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1–2

Jesus, the one person who perfectly trusted and perfectly obeyed the Father, did not chase his own happiness but endured the shame of our sin on the cross. And we are eternally grateful.

There is more to trust and obedience, however, than personal cost. In trust and obedience there is freedom & joy in living our lives as God designed them to be this side of heaven:

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Psalm 19:7-11

In trust and obedience there is certainty to rely on His grace – there is no need to impress God by performing great deeds, making impressive sacrifices or committing violence:

With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:6-8

In trust and obedience there is peace – we don’t need to plan God’s work for Him nor must we anticipate the whim of an imperfect or changing god. Abram (Abraham) did not orchestrate his role in God’s plan, God alone decided to call Abram. And God called Moses and all other prophets, gave kings their power and took that power away, sent His messiah and called His disciples. He planned our salvation before time began – God has not required human input to formulate His plans. Our responsibility is to lay our lives down before Him and obedient as He directs us:

And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good? Deuteronomy 10:12

Trust & Obey. Trust & Obey. Trust & Obey. Trust & Obey. Trust & Obey. Trust & Obey. Trust & Obey. Got it?