Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Passively Active

"By definition, a Christian is someone who trusts Jesus' death on the cross as the sacrifice that atones for our sins.  Theologians call this Christ's 'passive obedience.'" (pg 9 of devotion booklet Thanking God for Your Servant Heart)

When I read this this morning there was that all too familiar "ugh" in my spirit.  It always signifies to me that there is something not quite all together right about a statement that has been made or written.  I began praying and felt the need to look up the definition.

Wikipedia states: Passive obedience is a religious and political doctrine advocating the absolute supremacy of the Crown and the treatment of any dissent (or more precisely, disobedience) as sinful and unlawful.

Dictionary.com says: 
1.unquestioning obedience to authority
2.the surrender of a person's will to another person
And finally Webster's: absolute obedience or submission of a subject to the authority of a ruler regarded by some political writers as mandatory even when the ruler is bad
All of this is true in that Jesus was absolutely obedient to the Father's will.  To me, however, there is much more to His obedience "even unto death on the cross." (Philippians 2:8)
When I was a child, my parents would often tell me to do things I didn't want to do.  Helping keep our bedroom clean (which 5 of us shared, so it was difficult), taking my turn making breakfast and other various chores, but the worst of the worst was cleaning the kitchen after supper.  There are only so many hours of sunlight in a day, so when it was my turn to do dishes, I knew I had to give up those final moments of outdoor fun with friends.  Oh, I did the dishes all right, but I would grumble inwardly (sometimes outwardly, but where my parents couldn't hear) and in my angst to get finished and hopefully have a bit of daylight left, I would rush through the job and inevitably get in trouble when Daddy found a dish or two that wasn't quite completely clean.  He became so fed up with my uncaring attitude that one day he told me I would have a week of dishes for every dirty dish he found.
The next morning I was greeted with THREE weeks of dish washing!!  I was deflated!!  I did my three weeks, but they were accomplished with a bit of bitterness.  However, I learned to make sure the dishes were clean!!  I found no joy then in having to obey, but I didn't want a sore behind, so I did it.  Looking back I am grateful for the lesson I learned, but at the time, I was anything but.

Jesus gave complete and unquestioning obedience to the Father, but He went above and beyond by obeying in both love and joy.  
 Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 Amp)
Even if my daddy had sat me down and explained that one day I would be grateful, I might have believed him, but I still wouldn't have been joyful.  Jesus, though, was happy to die for the prize of receiving us as His bride!!  We, who have been disobedient, defiant, hateful and all sorts of despicable things, were longed for by Him so much that He willingly obeyed His Father, even though His humanity cried out against the horror of it all.  (John 17) But He joyfully gave Himself in our place so that we might become righteousness in God's eyes at the very moment we accepted His sacrifice for our individual person. We were His prize.  A people that would "finish the race set before them by the perfecting of our faith." (Hebrews 12:1-2)

" For he who had not known sin made himself to become sin in your place, that we would become the righteousness of God in him." (II Corinthians 5:21 Aramaic Bible)
When our children were small there were times I wanted to run away and hide or beat my children into submission.  I knew both of these to be evil and so I would instead run to our bedroom and kneel down in prayer asking for wisdom and strength in dealing with whatever the situation might be (sometimes I would just cry though, because I was and am not perfect).  I would then go in determined to continue in supervision and love.   It was during those times of prayer that God reminded me of the goal He had given me - rear my children in love and faith in Him so that they in turn could do so with their children and their children with theirs and so on.  So, even in my weary state, I was able to find joy in doing the most difficult of human tasks, being the wife and mother God designed me to be.  How minor that seems to what Jesus went through in order to rear me in love and faith in Him.  

Father, thank You that Jesus didn't just passively lay down His life for us, but actively sought us out and found joy in doing so on our behalf!  His death was both passive in admitting Your sovereignty and active in willingly giving Himself. 

No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. (John 10:18 NLT)

How minor is my sacrifice in comparison!  Help me focus on the joy of pleasing You now and in the world to come rather than the physical weariness that comes from serving in this world alone.  I love You!!