I find it is easier to obey a Cause rather than a Person. I like to rest in its shade and safety, content in my own virtues. Each Cause gives me a whole new pile of bricks with which to build a strong tower of righteousness for myself.
Many Causes have crossed my path in my adult years. Depending on the circumstances of my life some are more compelling than others. Worship music and liturgy; gender roles; politics; schooling; grief and loss; infertility; orphan care; adoption; mercy ministry; evangelism methods; disability care; hermeneutics; biblical studies; the role of the local church; hospitality; parenting. The list goes on and on.
And, of course, all of these things are important. The Church has faced these issues and concerns ever since the dawn of time. Each one takes its place in the life of a Christian community. Each one must be reckoned with and somehow assimilated into a community’s life and ritual.
At bottom, each issue of importance is simply a means by which we obey a Person – not a Cause through which we see our righteousness. “Temporal things are but Material for Obedience” as that wonderful Oxford Don once said. When I am faced with an orphan who needs care and if I am in a position to care for that orphan then it is obedience to do so. Plain and simple.
But what I want to do is grab a Cause to myself and to see my righteousness through the lens of that Cause. I lay brick after brick, building the tower of my Cause and I feel more and more secure and safe in my standing before God. I hasten to say as often as possible, “See, Lord? Look at how faithful I have been in this issue!”
God is the One who sets the boundaries and parameters of our obedience, who carries us along various “temporal things.” He sets them and re-sets them according to His good purposes.
So what happens when he re-sets the boundaries of my obedience so far away from where I was before that my strong towers of righteousness are nowhere in sight? Then what? Where do I find my shade and my safety and my righteousness out in the middle of a desert where I have never been before?
I could set to the work of building myself yet another tower of righteousness. They are so safe and familiar and it’s scary out here alone without them. But if I chance to look back at all the towers I have built and I get a good look at the landscape left behind, then all I see are mounds of rubble, crumbled and dusty, good for neither shelter nor safety.
There is another Tower; another Shelter; another Righteousness that speaks for me. When the parameters for my daily life are re-set by the Hands of an all-knowing, all-seeing, loving Father and new material for obedience has been laid at my feet there is only one thing to do. I turn and take refuge in that Strong Tower, pierced with nails, that has been standing fixed and unmovable in this very place long before I was ever here.
“Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.”