I’m going to start this post with what is now a customary apology for not having posted here for what is now months! I still think so much about issues concerned with marriage and relationships. As I have said (and meant) many times before, so I will say it now – and mean it yet again – I do intend to be more dedicated to writing for this blog and updating it frequently!
This post concerns something that I was just thinking about recently. It actually concerns every single part of our lives, but I’m going to make the point in relation to relationships (pun vaguely intended!) because in this one area of our lives there is great potential to take decisions which will forever affect our lives.
So this is the basic point. As the title says, sometimes we have to choose to obey God first, even before we understand why something must be so, or why He has told us in His word to do this, or not do that.
I’ll use myself as an example. I am the kind of person who likes to understand the way things work, or why things are the way they are. If I can understand why God has said something, then I would be the first person to obey it. However, there are times when I don’t understand why God has given specific commandments. I will sometimes sit down and think “Is this really right?” Or sometimes there is something in the Bible that I just cannot see, or even believe to the extent that the Bible has said it. So I sometimes sit there scratching my head. “Hmmmm!”
I have decided to trust in the Bible and to trust in God’s word to obey God first in everything that the Bible commands, even when I don’t understand it or it does not seem to make sense, or it does not really seem right. This is true generally in life.
Now I’ll give a few examples of how this could be true in relationships specifically. There are a few things that God has told us specifically about relationships in the Bible.
For instance, God has said that we are not to get into relationships with people who are not Christians. Concerning this specific commandment I think it is quite obvious why it makes sense to not get into relationships with people who do not share your faith.
However, what about this scenario – when you come across someone who is clearly not a Christian – but who seems to be utterly excellent in every other way? If you are like me, then you start getting on your face and praying for their salvation. If they do eventually turn to faith, then it becomes plausible.
However, when I faced this situation – (as has now happened twice in my life!) I did indeed pray etc etc. However there was still the need to obey God by not entering into relationship with either of them. In the event, neither of these men became Christians (as far as I know). Even though the reason for the command seems obvious, there were still certain things that I did not understand, even as I was praying away. In these aspects I had to obey first, and it is only later that understanding came.
1. We are all desperate sinners – including every attractive man that has ever lived (except Jesus!)
The Bible teaches quite clearly that we are all sinners. However when I was younger, I did not really grasp this or really understand how true it was. When I was younger, I used to think that with some people, it was not really that they were desperate sinners as such, but rather that they were simply “not perfect”. That is, that they came so close to the standards of perfection that they just missed out by a tiny hair’s breadth on actually being perfect. Now that I’m a little older, oh how my eyes have been opened! I still know people who are excellent and demonstrate excellent conduct in every way. However, I also understand how true it is that sin and evil reside quite comfortably in every single human heart – including the heart of everyone I regard as excellent.
I used to feel so frustrated at God’s commands that we were not even supposed to look at non-Christians (OK, the Bible does not actually say that!) And I was definitely looking – as much as it is possible to look! I used to think:
“But God, these guys are so good…they are so excellent..!” I used to think that it was just that small matter of getting them over that Christian threshold – then everything would be fine. To which an older Tosin now says “Hmmmm”!
2. No matter how lovely someone might be who does not believe in God, he will not pray for you because he does not pray – yes?!
I used to compare these guys to actual Christians guys I knew. In terms of drive, determination, commitment to excellence, these non-Christian guys would win – hands down. Sorry Christian brothers! And then I actually met Christians who prayed. Oh. My. Goodness. You should have seen how determined I was regarding these excellent non-Christian guys. I now realise that I was comparing them against people of underdeveloped commitment to Christ. Now that I have met people who pray – who really pray – I now understand how much I would have been cheating myself by accepting anything less, whether from Christians, or from non-Christians.
37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’