Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Homily 29: How to Be (as preached by an orthodox rebel)

"If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." John 13:17

Happiness is invariably linked to obedience. We must rescue this concept from the legalists and moralists of the world. They have made obedience an arbitrary rule-keeping, reducing it to an inevitable drudgery. If there is any happiness, it is artificial, and there is many a legalistic church full of fake, artificial happiness. Outwardly is all smiles and shouts, but inwardly is a cancerous ennui. Life with God becomes a chore to be done, happiness and joy be damned. This is the view that most people have of obedience, and we must rescue it from such a horrid corruption.

God is Creator: He made everything. More to the point, He is our Creator: He made us. This is much more than a matter of matter. If God has names for all of the stars (Ps. 147:4), which physically are just balls of burning gas, He certainly has names for all of us, a name which He shall reveal to us one day (Rev. 2:17). That is a point that we must not miss: our identity is bound up in God, an identity whose full disclosure will come to us when we see Him face to face (I John 3:2). At the very least, we can gather for now that we are a creature: not in a bestial sense, but in the sense of something that is made. We are from the hand of a Maker; that is (in part) who we are. That is where we belong. It is our "place," so to speak, and identity is about place, viz., the place where we "fit," like a puzzle piece, or a bone in its socket. The whole history of human Sin (even to this day) can be seen as humanity trying to find their place without God, which is a futile endeavor. If we want to know who we are, then we must go to the One who made us.

This sheds a new light on God's commands. He is not just giving us rules, the arbitrary assignments of a divine monarch. Rather, He is teaching us how to be. The commands of God are the precious communique from Creator to creature where the former tells the latter who they are, who they ought to be (for the very nature of the Fall is that we are not who we ought to be). This is why obedience is happiness: when we obey the Creator, we are being who we are, who we ought to be and were meant to be. We have found our place, our identity, our home. And there's no place like home.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2011

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