Yesterday I wrote about why I believe the Bible teaches that the spiritual life is about submitting oneself to one’s assigned pastor-teacher and learning the word of God on a daily basis under the filling of the Spirit, thus transforming the mind as per the command in Romans 12. As I was pulling the verses together, however, I couldn’t help wondering why God hadn’t been clearer about it, like He was with salvation (Acts 16:31 “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved.“). Why didn’t He just say somewhere, “Sit down and listen to your assigned pastor teacher every day and let the word of God transform you.” Then there wouldn’t be any arguing against it. No room for excuses. It’d be right there. Why isn’t it?
Because, for one thing, I think God wanted there to be room for excuses. He wants people to have an out, so they can decline to do what He asks without looking completely foolish and wrong in front of everyone else. Take the several recounted instances where Jesus has just done some miracles and a crowd has gathered and He suddenly “gave orders to depart to the other side” of the Sea of Galilee. (Like in Matt 8:18)
All those people there get to make a choice — will they get in the boat and go “to the other side” (I love that choice of words) with Him or will they just go back to their homes, chattering excitedly about the day’s entertainment and how they actually saw the famous Jesus.
The idea of dropping everything in your life to get into a boat and go off with this guy is just… weird. Who would really expect anyone to do such a thing, let alone condemn them if they didn’t? In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the ones they condemned were the disciples who did go. After all, leaving your family behind? Your job? Wandering about with no direction, no place to lay your head? Isn’t that flaky and irresponsible? Even outright fanatical?
I think, too, that God’s not made the protocol of the Christian life as bluntly crystal clear as salvation because right away we humans would make it a law. It wouldn’t have to spring out of genuine love, but could come from duty. From a desire to look right before people, etc. Or to look good to God. To “obey,” be a good little girl (or boy), in which case the situation becomes about you. Your performance.
But if you love something, if it’s the most important thing in your life, if it’s a Body, a living, breathing, real-time thing, an interaction between pastor and pupil, and pupil and pupil, God the Holy Spirit flowing through all, talking through all, then you’ll want to do it all on your own. It’s not about obeying a law and doing “the right thing.” It’s about loving someone. Someone who IS truth. And when you hear the truth, you’ll know it for what it is. And it won’t have to be so plainly stated that anyone coming down the road can see it.