WHOM TO OBEY?

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There is no doubt  that  obedience is better than sacrifice. The sole reason for the rejection of Saul  from kingship was his disobedience. Prophet Samuel’s words were sharp to the  core. ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the  Lord? Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed  than the fat of rams. For rebellion is no less a  sin than divination, and stubbornness is like iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king’ (1 Sam 15: 22-23). 

What greater loss can befall a king than losing his crown? And Saul lost it for  disobedience!  ‘If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the  good of the land’ (Isa 1:19) was God’s promise and it is still open. Disobedience will  deprive  us of everything good that  God has prepared for his children.  Disobedience will dethrone us from the lofty heights of  a ‘royal priesthood’ (1 Pet 2:9) and  the exalted  status of a  ‘chosen race, a holy nation, and God’s own  people’ (1 Pet 2:9). 

But what should we obey? Or whom should we obey? 

Samuel and all prophets say to obey Lord the God. Jesus  taught the  same thing and his apostles too exhorted us to obey what God says. ‘They who have my  commandments and keep them are those who love me’ (Jn 14:21). The  only way to glory is also  obedience. God highly exalted Jesus and gave him the name  that is above every name because  Jesus  became obedient to the  point of death – even death on a cross’ (Phil. 2:9). Obedience is such a  great virtue that its rejection will  make one unable to enter the  promised rest of God. ‘And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, if not to those who were disobedient?’ (Heb 3:18). Whom did the Israelites disobey; Moses or Lord the God? Certainly their rebellion was against  Lord the God.

Obedience is neither to  prophets nor to  apostles. It should be  to Almighty God, and to him alone. Of course, we  obey our  leaders, authorities, and elders. It is because they relay the words of God. Be it in the Church, society, or family obedience is primarily towards God and God alone. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches;  ‘Citizens are obliged in conscience  not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the  demands of the moral order (CCC 2256).   The Church quotes the words of the  apostles to support this teaching. ’We must   obey God rather than any human authority’ (Acts 5:29). Peter and John silenced  the religious leaders who tried to prevent them from preaching  the gospel, by asking a   counter question; ‘Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge’ (Acts 4:19). Jesus  himself once condemned this  corrupt religious  leadership saying; ‘In vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines. You abandon the commandment of God and hold to  human tradition…. You have a fine way  of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition’ (Mk 7:7-9).

As Christians our obedience is and should be to God alone. When persons in authority, be it in  family, society, country or Church  instruct us to  do something  that goes against the  commandments of God we are not bound to  obey them. Those who disobey the eternal laws given by the  Lord through the Scriptures will be  ‘found fighting against God’ (Acts 5:39). The  tragedy of our generation is that  they lost the wisdom  of Gamaliel  at this crucial time.  We are ‘always ready to  be   instructed’  (2 Tim 3:7) and as a result ‘fail to arrive at a  knowledge of the truth’ (2 Tim. 3:7). We ignore  the  commandments of God and  trust in human reason. This will  deprive us of divine grace, the most essential gift in  life.

When we come across legislations and declarations  glorifying  abortion and  homosexual activities, remember that a time has come when ‘people will not put up with sound doctrine’ (2 Tim 4:3). ‘They will  accumulate  for themselves teachers to suit their own desires’ (2 Tim 4:3)  even if their teaching is against what  God said.

It should not surprise us because all these events were foretold for the  end times. These days are  given to us  as ‘an opportunity to testify’ (Lk 21:13). What  should sustain us in these times is the   eternal promise of our lord Jesus Christ; ‘Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven’ (Mt 10:32). May the Good God  give us the grace to  remain in   true faith and resist the false teachings  coming from all sides.

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