Late Night Reflections: Obedience


Richard Foster: Where are the people today who will respond to the call of Christ? Have we become so accustomed to “cheap grace’ that we instinctively shy away from more demanding calls to obedience?

Foster wrote this quote in his section on “fasting” from his book Celebration of Discipline. A must have if you don’t own it. His point, I believe, is one that rings true today more than ever. It seems today that the most sought after ‘disciplines’ (and I use that word lightly in this particular sentence) are giving (to the church) and coming to Sunday service. 

But where have all the ‘real’ disciplines gone? Where are those who fast for a deeper relationship with God? Where are the people who search the scriptures, people who comb the Bible in order to be made more into the image of God? (People who do this over the last century or so have been deemed ‘Bible scholars’ in passing. A very inappropriate term, seeing that we should all be reading our Bibles devotedly). Where are those who pray? Not those who pray ‘for’ or pray ‘with’, we have plenty of people who want to be seen or known as ‘the one who will pray at the drop of the hat’. But true, inner prayer; prayer that is secret, set aside, intentional ‘you & God’ time. (All the while avoiding the kind of praying the Pharisees subscribe to in Jesus’ warnings in Matthew 5-7). Intercession and supportive prayer is AWESOME, but I’m not talking about that.

Back to the quote: Grace has become ‘cheap’ in the sense that we believe all will be well because God is going to take care of everything. So many live life as if it’s all going to be okay because…wait for it…’God is in control’. True, but relationships don’t work that way. How many husbands take care of everything, whether she likes it or not, and the wife is content. Not buying it. We are co-laborers with Christ and there is much responsibility asked, no, required of us, in order for this to work. God does His part???we do ours.

We are afraid to enter into the more demanding disciplines of the Christian religion, the Christian life. Some will read this and think I’m talking about going to Africa for mission work or tithing 20 or 30%. No.

My version of Foster’s question (and he actually gets around to this) would be Where are those that wish to exprience Christ on the inside? Where are those that are willing to develop the ‘inner life’ so that the ‘outer life’ may be genuine and be innocent of all vanity?

Sorry if tonight seems like a rant. My desire is to ask the tough questions for those who won’t or can’t ask them. Answering the tough questions is the kind of battle each of us needs going on within us. Where there is tension there is the possibility of movement, of action. I don’t want to move you???I want to create tension, so that you will feel the urge to engage life. I’m reminded of the scene in Top Gun, where Maverick is ‘gun shy’ and NEEDS to engage the dog fight taking place. If he doesn’t, his wingman will be shot down. The tension builds, things become clear, and Maverick re-engages, taking out the enemy and saving his wingman’s life (and possibly his own).

Engage the spiritual battle that is going on within you. Seek clarity in prayer and even take on some new or old disciplines that have the potential to re-align you for life with God. May God grant you the strength to engage the life He’s given you to live, and may He bless you with true relationship and all its benefits.


Written with Essay on iPad

Rev. Whit R. Martin 
Redwine UMC


Sent from Whit’s iPad 

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