Now we are ready to take up the fifth of the Owl’s principal terms: Obedience. This is probably the one least likely to find acceptance among our modern brothers and sisters, who seem to have a visceral reaction against anything resembling conventional moral precepts.
But that is not a scold. Fortunately, the meaning of obedience we have in mind comes from a completely different plane, not the one where the frumious bandersnach moralism stretches his jaws and claws. No, the obedience we have in mind flows from the last previous of our terms: freedom.
Upon receiving the gift of faith—which remember is no human accomplishment or “leap” into the dark—the newly fledged often first report shame and dismay: “How could I have been so stupid for so long?” But it is not long before joy takes hold. Then sheer gratitude seeks an outlet. There is no form of thanks or sacrificial offering that could remotely balance the gift received, and that is a problem. But God is gracious over and over, and now offers a solution: a task, a vocation that is within human capacity; something to be performed in freedom.
We have already said freedom in this context includes freedom to lay down the life we will certainly lose, knowing we have a true life hidden in God which cannot be lost. Most people are not called to be martyrs or spiritual heroes. Some find that what they have been doing all along has been an undiscovered vocation. In such a case, one’s obedience might not look outwardly different from acquiescence.
It is important to remember God is free too. He can throw curves, issue new vocations later, and even seem contradictory within a single individual. It matters not whether one person’s assignment seems to be helpful to others, or to conform to social norms. We have already said there is no prescribed content to freedom, and no such thing as a through-defined “Christian morality.” Time was, when you couldn’t play cards or dance on Sunday, or in some sects, drink wine. Those days are over.
Not everybody likes what they are given to do. Think of Saul on the road to Damascus, thrown down and blinded, stripped of his identity. Think of Moses making excuses at the burning bush before he goes to Pharaoh. Think of Hosea, commanded to marry a prostitute. Jonah trying to run away to sea; how far did he get?
Waiting on God
Faith, Covenant, Love, Freedom, Obedience. These are the main points of the Owl’s message. The Owl denies any doctrinaire or hegemonic content to them. The Owl has no stake in whether a reader takes to them or not. You are free; not just free in a commonplace sense, but FREE. In the Resurrection everything that needs to be done has been done. Now it is for us to live and let live, succor and take care of each other as best we can, while we wait on God’s good pleasure going forward.
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I hope all my readers have found much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, and I wish you all the blessings of Christmas. Amen, Amen, Amen.