Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Obedience unto Relationship

Howard Hendricks, speaking in terms of spiritual knowledge, says the opposite of ignorance is not knowledge but obedience. His point, I think, is that God wants to move us from ignorance, to knowledge, to obedience which hopefully leads to salvation along the way. There are dangers if we try to take short cuts around knowledge or worse yet stop short of applying the truth we possess by never actually living it out in our daily lives.

The short cut from ignorance directly to obedience by skipping knowledge is risky because you really don't know if your behavior is true obedience if you have no actual knowledge of the truth. However, this isn't nearly as problematic or as common as people who get stuck on knowledge without application. With a few rare exceptions, most modern Christians have far more knowledge of the truth than we have application of the truth. That's why the world views the church as being full of hypocrites.

James tells us that knowledge without application is like a man who looks in a mirror then goes away and forgets what he looks like. Self-knowledge is lost when theoretical knowledge is not applied. Spiritual ignorance that blossoms into spiritual knowledge without the requisite obedience results in hypocrisy and spiritual pride. The Apostle Paul addressed this problem when he wrote "knowledge puffs up, but love builds up." Apparently, the antidote to puffy knowledge is love. But what is love?

Love in the biblical sense has very little to do with romance, sex, or feelings. Love is a decision to submit my own desires to the needs of another. Love in its purest form is submission. What does this have to do with obedience and relationship? By submitting our lives in obedience to the Truth, we discover who God is and who we are and how we can be rightly related to the Creator of the Universe. This is where true happiness is found.


  1. The Catholic Church teaches the same thing about love. Fascinating reading thus far.

  2. Thanks for the comment. For some reason the comments aren't showing the date, but today is Feb 1, 2015, so it is interesting for me to go back and read what I wrote more than a decade ago. I had no idea I was a closet Catholic. :-)