It seems that today the word ‘obedience’ has taken on a pejorative sort of meaning particularly when applied to adults. Why should an adult be in obedience to another adult – surely he or she is old enough to make up their own minds concerning the issues of their lives. This very individualistic attitude seems to be a result of a gradual process in western philosophy which has seen a dramatic shift in focus from the human community as a whole or what we could term the common good to the individual person over and against those around him or her. This very unhealthy step, perhaps expressed most forcefully by Sartre through one of his fictional characters St Genet when he said “Hell is other people.” (The Flies) can easily lead to the human individual losing his or her anchor to the rest of humanity if it is not carefully protected.
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews exhorts us all to live in obedience to our leaders. This is not an exhortation that means the loss of our personal freedom if we understand it properly. No person can survive on his or her own; it is even questionable if it is possible to actually fully experience what it means to be a person if one is totally isolated from all other human beings. However, there is a place in all of our lives, including the faith dimension which we are focusing upon here, where we need to be led along the path that will lead us to eternal life. Jesus tells us in the Gospel that this path is narrow; therefore it makes sense that we will need help to stay on it!
Jesus specifically raised up leaders, the apostles in order to form them to continue the work He began in proclaiming the Good News. At the very least we are all called to be absolutely obedient to God’s will; and here is the catch, this also leads to a very clear understanding that we are to be obedient to those whom He has raised up to lead us in the journey of faith. Our obedience is not merely blindly following everything that we are told to do. A good leader will place a vision before his flock and then give general guiding principles so that the goal will be achieved. We are all adults with our own minds and gifts and abilities; it is up to our leaders to draw forth the best from us all and thus maximize our potential in serving the Kingdom of God.
Do I live my life in obedience to God and those whom He has given authority in my life?
Lord Jesus, you were obedient to your Father’s will. Help me to submit my life to your will and to do this joyfully and freely.