Take a trust walk towards a 'Brave' new world
My wife and I went to see the movie 'Brave', when it was playing at the Liberty Theatre.
I felt a bit out of place. We sat down and then I began seeing several pairs of little eyes turning around to watch us. The place was filled with children. That figures, given that the movie is a Pixar animation and this was the Sunday matinee. Still, I felt a bit like Gulliver among the Lilliputians. The movie had great animation, and the story was well done. The humorous parts were varied; some were more subtle and obviously for an older audience, but there were plenty of occasions for the Lilliputians to laugh, and when they did, the whole theatre resounded in the higher octaves. It made me snicker just to hear them laugh.
Without giving the story away too much, it revolves around the prideful disobedience of the princess and the consequences that come to her and her family because of it. Go see the movie while it's still here, or rent it when it comes out in DVD.
But what of obedience? The word reeks of burden. It brings to mind the loss of freedom, choice and self. If I am serving someone else, how can I even be myself? If I must be told what to do and how to do it, in what way am I a growing person who learns the wisdom that can only come from making one's own decisions and living with the consequences? Some people, perhaps most people, associate obedience with dependence, servitude and the loss of autonomy. Obedience is loathsome to them.
In the movie 'A Few Good Men', the marines on trial are acquitted of murder, but they are found guilty of conduct unbecoming a marine; that is, they should have disobeyed an order and chosen to stand up for their defenseless comrade. They should have acted autonomously and decided which orders were just and which were not, which were worth following and which were not, and that is the ethos of the current spirit in much of contemporary western culture. Ironically, in a world where we are all connected and mutually influencing one another, where our well-being is the outcome of a communal process, the individual has become the measure of all things.
Jesus spoke to the issue of individual obedience. He said, “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments…Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me… He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him… If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him... If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.”
He did not say, “Figure out what I have said that fits with what you think is right, and then do that.”
Loving obedience is based on faith. Many people have gone through various team-building exercises, usually at work where someone is attempting to get more productivity out of a group. Often as part of such exercises, the facilitator will suggest a “trust walk” of some kind. In this exercise, one person wears a blindfold, so that he or she cannot see a thing. The other person gives directions about where and how to walk, and the one with the blindfold has to do as the person giving instructions says. Now, there may be no love involved in this; in fact, the two people might not like each other much at all, but if the blindfolded person is not to bump into a wall or stumble over a chair, he or she must learn to trust the person giving directions and the expression, the evidence of that trust, is the fact that the blindfolded person does as the instructor says.
That is what Jesus meant. A Christian person walks in step with the Holy Spirit. That is the message of chapters five and six of the book of Ephesians in the New Testament. It links the constructs of respect and obedience by first looking at the metaphor of how a wife respects her husband and then how children obey and honour their parents and how servants obey their masters.
See how the bad feelings start to come up when you read these words (wives respect husbands and servants obey masters)? Obedience, the thought of obeying, seems harsh. However, I do not believe it is escapable. Love, respect, and honour lead to trust that expresses itself in obedience. This is not simply an obligatory adhering to rules on the wall, which is keeping the letter of the law, and something Jesus indicated was not adequate. This is the ability to hear from God in a daily relationship and to step where He says to step. It is a trust walk. If you don't step where He says to step, you don't believe Him. And salvation is by faith, which is believing Him. It is not just a believing that, (an affirmation of something Jesus has done), it is a believing in (putting one's full weight on Him, investing oneself in His ability to give pragmatic directions that relate to one's actual life and all that is based on the ability to actually hear God, sense the leading of the Holy Spirit, and thus perceive Jesus giving directions). It is action based on what a person him or herself will do.
I would like to see 'Brave' again some time. Perhaps we will rent it when it comes out. I think the movie has a great message about how pride gets in the way of hearing the wisdom in another's perspective. When I think about it, it is also a story illustrating part of the Ten Commandments:
Honour your father and mother so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth…
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