Archive for the ‘Obedience’ Category

True Faith

Friday, November 13th, 2015

I think this will throw some light upon the words of our Lord, “If ye have faith and doubt not, if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.”

Good people, among them John Bunyan, have been tempted to tempt the Lord their God upon the strength of this saying, just as Satan sought to tempt our Lord on the strength of the passage he quoted from the Psalms. They think that as long as they have faith, and believe earnestly enough, it is possible to do and accomplish anything to which they might set their hand.

Happily for such, the assurance to which they would give the name of faith generally fails them in time. Faith is not the fervent setting of the mind on “believing” for such-and-such an outcome — more often than not a desire generated by the man’s own soul — as if we, and not God, were the orignators and initiators of faith by the strength of our passions, the fervor of our prayers, and the forcefulness of our mental processes. True faith, rather, is that which, knowing the Lord’s will, goes and does it, or, not knowing it, stands and waits, content in ignorance as in knowledge, because God wills. Faith neither presses into the hidden future, nor is careless of the knowledge that opens the path of action. It is faith’s noblest exercise to act with uncertainty of the result when the duty of obedience is certain, or even when a course seems with strong probability to be duty. Even if a man is mistaken in the honest effort to obey, though his work be burned, by that very fire he will be saved. Nothing saves a man more than the burning of his work, except the doing of work that can stand the fire.

But to put God to the question in any other way than by saying “What will you have me to do?” is an attempt to compel God to declare himself, or to hasten his work, or to imagine it his work what our own soul desires to accomplish.

— George MacDonald, Knowing the Heart of God, p. 274-275

The Loving, Good Judge

Friday, September 11th, 2015

Having [God] as my judge is good whether I be in the right or the wrong. I want him as my judge all the more when I am wrong, for then I most keenly need his wisdom. Would I have my mistakes overlooked? Not at all! Shall he not do right? And will he not set me right? I can think of nothing so wonderful!

— George MacDonald, Knowing the Heart of God, p. 51 (from The Landlady’s Master)

Let Their Light Shine

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

The duty of Christians toward their fellow men and women is to let their light shine, not to force on them their interpretations of God’s designs.

If those who set themselves to explain the various theories of Christianity had set themselves instead to do the will of the Master, the one object for which the gospel was preached, how different would the world now be!…

Unhindered by Christians’ explanations of Christianity, undeterred by having their acceptance forced on them, but attracted instead by their behavior, men would be saying to each other, as Moses said to himself when he saw the bush that burned but was not consumed, “I will now turn aside to see this great sight!” All over the world, people would be drawing near to behold how these Christians loved one another and how just and fair they were to every one that came into contact with them. They would note that the goods Christians had to sell were the best, their weights and measures most dependable, their prices most reasonable, their word most certain, their smiles most genuine, their love most selfless!… They would see, in short, a people who lived by their principles of belief, not merely talked and disputed about them.

— George MacDonald, Knowing the Heart of God, p. 43-44

Not About Past Sin

Monday, September 7th, 2015

We may be sure of this, that no man or woman will be condemned for any sin that is past. If he be condemned, it will be because he or she would not come to the Light when the Light came to them, because they would not learn to do as the Light instructs, because they hid their unbelief in the garment of a false faith, and would not obey.

— George MacDonald, Knowing the Heart of God, p. 42

Living by Faith

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

Instead of asking yourself whether you believe or not, ask yourself whether you have this day done one single thing because he said, “Do it,” or once abstained because he said, “Do not do it.” I do not say that you will not have, as a matter of course, done this or that good thing that fell into harmony with the words of Jesus. But have you done or not done any act, as a conscious decision made because he said to do it or not?

— George MacDonald, Knowing the Heart of God, p. 30

Doing as Christ Tells You

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

We can never come to know Jesus as he is by believing any theory about him. What I would point people to is a faith in the living, loving, ruling, helping Christ. It is not faith that Christ did this, or that his work wrought that which will save us. Rather, it is faith in the man himself who did and is doing everything for us.

Do you ask, “What is faith in him?”

I answer, the leaving of your way, your objects, your self, and the taking of his and him; the leaving of your trust in men, in money, in opinion, in character, in religious doctrines and opinions, and then doing as Christ tells you.

I can find no words strong enough to serve for the weight of this necessity — this obedience.

— George MacDonald, Knowing the Heart of God, p. 29

Better Bruised Than Ill

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Whenever we Christians are enclosed in our groups, our movements, our parishes, in our little worlds, we remain closed, and the same thing happens to us that happens to anything closed: when a room is closed, it begins to get dank. If a person is closed up in that room, he or she becomes ill! Whenever Christians are enclosed in their groups, parishes, and movements, they take ill. If a Christian goes to the streets, or to the outskirts, he or she may risk the same thing that can happen to anyone out there: an accident. How often have we seen accidents on the road! But I am telling you: I would prefer a thousand times over a bruised Church to an ill Church! A Church, a catechist, with the courage to risk going out, and not a catechist who is studious, who knows everything but is always closed — such a person is not well. And sometimes he or she is not well in the head . . .

But, careful! Jesus does not say, Go off and do things on your own. No! That is not what he is saying. Jesus says, Go, for I am with you! This is what is so beautiful for us; it is what guides us. If we go out to bring his Gospel with love, with a true apostolic spirit, with parrhesia, he walks with us, he goes ahead of us and he gets there first.

— Pope Francis, The Church of Mercy, p. 19

The Work of Jesus

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Jesus would not give himself to only a portion of his Father’s will, but to all of it. He would not pluck the spreading branches of the tree; he would lay the axe to its root. He would not deal with the mere effect of sin; he would destroy sin altogether. It would take time, but the tree would be dead at last — dead, and cast into the lake of fire. It would take time, but his Father had time enough and to spare. It would take courage and strength and self-denial and endurance; but his Father could give him all. It would cost pain of body and mind, agony and torture, but those he was ready to take on himself. It would cost him the vision of many sad and, to all but him, hopeless sights. He would have to see tears without wiping them, hear sighs without changing them into laughter, see the dead lie, and let them lie. He would have to see Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted. He must look on his brothers and sisters crying as children over their broken toys, and must not mend them. He must go on to the grave, and none of these know that thus he was setting all things right for them. His work must be one with and completing God’s creation and God’s history.

— George MacDonald, Knowing the Heart of God, p. 283

Real Belief

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Is Christianity a system of articles of belief? Never. It would be better for a man to hold the most obnoxious untruths, opinions the most irreverent, if at the same time he lived in the faith of the Son of God, that is trusted in God as the Son of God trusted in him, than for him to hold every formula of belief perfectly true, and yet know nothing of a daily life and walk with God. The one, holding doctrines of devils, is yet a child of God. The other, holding doctrines of Christ is of the world — yes, of the devil.

To hold to a doctrine or an opinion with the intellect alone is not to believe it. A man’s real belief is that which he lives by. If a man lives by the love of God, and obedience to God’s law, as far as he has recognized it, then whatever wrong opinions the man holds are outside of him. They are not true, and they cannot really be inside any good man. At the same time, no matter how many correct opinions another man holds, if he does not order his life by the law of God’s love, he is not a child of God. What a man believes is the thing he does, not the thing he thinks.

— George MacDonald, Knowing the Heart of God, p. 20

God’s Yes

Monday, January 17th, 2011

God’s “no” to me was actually a “yes” in disguise. I needed only to accept the clear direction I was being given in order for me to start feeling relief.

When we surrender to God’s will for us, we often feel relief. We intuitively know we have been fighting a war we couldn’t win, and when we say, “Enough! I will do it your way!” we can almost hear the synapses of the universe snapping into place as our good starts to move toward us. It is not God’s will for us to be miserable. It is not God’s will that we should suffer. Many times when we oppose God’s will, we are actually in the process of selling ourselves far short.

I can see now that had I stayed married to the man I so loved I would have had a claustrophobic life, one in which many freedoms were curtailed and a great many friendships declared off-limits as well. I was in love with a man who was both possessive and territorial. I was not only his wife, I was his property, and straying too far into my own interests was a real threat to him. I was willing to pay this price, but God was not willing to have me pay it. Whenever I prayed for a knowledge of God’s will, I was firmly given the sense that I was to pursue a separate and equal course, which is what I did do — but not until I had fought with God for the better part of a decade.

— Julia Cameron, Faith and Will, p. 84