Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Passion and Obedience

Last night during Bible study I was commenting how Paul's statement, "You did not learn Christ in this way" seems so emphatic that it's like it's double-underlined...and so I got thinking about Paul. Too bad that they didn't use punctuation in those days! I think if they had, his emphasis on so many things would have seemed so much more obvious to the average everyday reader, so emphatic, so passionate, so zealous. Of course, also, if I knew the original Greek, maybe much more of that would already be obvious to me. We tend, I think, to read the Bible quietly, as quiet seems to be the reverent manner. I suppose it is reverent, yet I wonder how true to Paul's way of communicating a quiet reading can be.
I love Paul's passion. I love his determination, his tendency to only be dominated by the Spirit of Christ and nothing else, except as the Spirit dictates. To be useful to God when a person is so determined, we have to be dominated by the Spirit. If we're not obedient to Him, how can we be useful for anything He has set out for us to accomplish? We have to belong to Christ and live like we are fully committed to Him. If we are determined as Paul was, and not living obedient to God, we're all the more useful to the devil and opposing all the more what we would otherwise promote.
Paul had seen something of heaven; he'd heard the audible voice of Christ; we can see how that launched him into an unmatched work for God. We are to follow those who follow Christ, and as Paul followed Him so closely, so clearly impassioned for Him through what he had experienced, if only we could match him step for step, really following the example of Paul.
So here I am, going from doing dishes to taxes to plumbing to laundry, and not often seeing the steps of Paul very clearly to follow in all of this work. The other day I was quite overcome by a sudden, intense longing to be done with it all, to be in heaven, to never have to deal with the mundane things of life, to no longer have to slog through the mess of my earthly possessions, to be in heaven; it was like my face was pressed up to the "glass darkly" which is all through which we can see any small glimpse of heaven. I had to go upstairs and go take a shower and try to pull myself out of it, it was so intense. It did pass, but the remaining impression was how ordinary my living is, how much I long to do something excellent for God. How much I long to, but how? But when? In my everyday life, step by step, surrendering to His will, it may not seem much to anyone else. God sees all that I do and what goes on within me. Maybe if I can stay obedient and do this to His glory, He will give me greater things. Maybe even if it remains so small and confined, my life can amount to something in His sight, so that He can say, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

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