30 Jul Power of obedience
Most of us know of the famous miracle that took place, when St Anthony was commissioned to serve as parish priest (to the notorious people) in Padua. As he tried to preach to these disobedient people, they refused to listen to the word of God, but Anthony remained unfazed. He promptly declared that he would instead, preach to the fish! When the curious people of Padua followed Anthony to the sea and realized that even the fish of the sea (chose wisely by listening to the voice of God), as they miraculously started bobbing their heads out of the water (affirming Anthony’s preaching), the people repented and their hearts were converted.
Delving into the holy scriptures, we learn how all of God’s creation bow down and obey Him (as is rightly expected). It is not just the creatures alone, but the elements of nature that obey God, such as the wind and the sea (Gospel account of Jesus calming the storm).
Even with Anthony, it was not him, that the fish were attentively listening to; it was really their Creator, the Holy Spirit, as He spoke through Anthony. The fish recognized God’s voice and instantly desiring to obey their Lord, surfaced from the water to listen, which caused this miraculous manifestation.
When you speak under the influence of the Holy Spirit, people are going to be drawn to “listen to and obey your directions”. Therefore, if you as a parent or a person in authority, face challenges when, those under you do not obey you, it is the will of the Lord that, you communicate with them through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In doing so, God will greatly intervene and mighty miracles will take place.
Consider the angels, who are very powerful and are created with a free will. In spite of being more intelligent than us (and precisely because of being more intelligent), they choose to wholeheartedly obey God.
Therefore, if a disciple truly wishes to be led by the Holy Spirit, obedience is one of the first characteristics they need to have.
What exactly is obedience?
It is to do the will of God and exactly the way God wants it from you!
Obedience attracts great benefits, one of which is tremendous grace. The first thing that happens, when you decide to be obedient, is that you immediately come under the protection of God, who takes complete responsibility for you. More importantly, when you are completely obedient to God, you will be guaranteed eternal salvation.
“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:17
The greatest “evangelist” of obedience, was Jesus because He truly put this virtue into action and did it so perfectly. He was so firm in his commitment to obey God the Father and the Holy Spirit, that he even accepted death, as a result!
He also chose to obey His simple human parents, though he was more brilliant, intelligent and knowledgeable than them, was God’s Son and God Himself! And He continued being submissive to his parents, until He reached the age of 30.
If the Son of God, placed such a high value on obedience, we need to adopt the same attitude. To do so, we need to firstly, learn the importance of obedience, its meritorious values and inculcate the same into our life.
Being disciples of Jesus, we have to acknowledge that God has appointed certain individuals, who have authority over us.
“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” Ephesians 6:5
It is essential for us to recognize the face and authority of Christ in our leaders, because ultimately, it is not really them who we are obeying, rather we are submitting ourselves to Christ!
What does obedience have to do with physical prosperity?
People often moan as they do not see prosperity in their lives. They say that they have worked for years, in the same firm and have not been promoted. Yet those who joined later, ascended the career ladder!
A solution to prosperity, is training ourselves to “work for the Lord” when working in our job.
Work with all sincerity and be consistent in work attitude, showing just as much dedication to your work whether the boss is around; whether you are being watched or not.
What really matters, is to be sincere at all times, because we should be true disciples of Christ and execute your work from your heart. Be of the knowledge that Jesus is everyone’s “Ultimate Boss” and nothing escapes His gaze.
Subsequently, what we need to put into practice, is that we have to “work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” Ephesians 6:7.
Now, considering the above scripture, we should therefore delight in this fact and conduct our service in utter joy!
Armor yourselves beforehand with the knowledge that, we may sometimes have to pay a heavy price to obey i.e. it could lead us to persecution. Yet, that should not change our commitment to obey, because ultimately we are doing this for Jesus and not man.
Turning away from obedience, obstructs our path leading to prosperity (which God had pre-planned for us). The following scripture, affirms this.
“Why do you disobey the LORD’s commands? You will not prosper. Because you have forsaken the LORD, he has forsaken you.” 2 Chronicles 24:20
If you wonder why you have not been prosperous, it is time to introspect whether your attitude was that of obedience or noncompliance. God has subjected every human being to authority and hence to obedience.
Now, knowing that Jesus being the Son of God, was expected and subjected to obedience, all the more, should we not accept being obedient?
“Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered” Hebrews 5:8.
The scripture is very transparent about the fact that, by Jesus obeying, He often suffered even more.
“And having been made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” Hebrews 5:9
Yet, gloriously, one aspect of the fruit of such (suffering) obedience was that, it gained Him all authority and power over mankind!
If then, we adhere to obedience, we too shall emerge with glorious power, just like Jesus!
When your children are disobedient
You may be challenged with your child having a disobedient attitude. If this is your predicament, you need to thoughtfully reflect, if you were always obedient to your parents or if you also challenged them with certain acts of disobedience.
Our children carry traits of our own characteristics within them and hence we need to sincerely repent of our past. This will duly bring about changes in your child, who will start obeying.
Why does obedience sometimes bring terrible suffering?
Some people are troubled and query that if often happens when obeying God (which itself is sometimes difficult), it brings greater suffering, rather than relief. The account from Acts 16, is one such example. When the apostles obeyed the Holy Spirit’s directions about the place they needed to journey to, it resulted in them being thrown into prison!
Although the apostles were met with bitter suffering, it was through their obedience and suffering, that God powerfully brought about a mighty evangelization inside the prison, resulting in the jailer and his family being converted.
When we submit to obedience, which may lead to suffering, we need to stay resolved to the fact that what we are going through, is paving the way for God to release his blessings, grace and miracles into our work!
Many of us truly wish to hearken to God’s call to obey, but we struggle and give up, disappointed.
Let us not lose the battle; we can fulfill our intention to obey, by firstly realizing that the evil one is interfering with our commitment to obey (because he was the one to initiate disobedience in our first parents).
The next step is to pray for deliverance from the Spirit of disobedience. We need to take our problem to the Lord and ask Him to set us free from this spirit. The moment we are free and get into obeying, we will see grace and the saving power of God in action, with blessings to reap!
“If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land” Isaiah 1:19
What about those who are completely disobedient, yet prosperous?
It is true, that we see many amongst us who are disobedient but heartily prosper, while we follow our regular Catholic duties i.e. attend the obligation mass, pray, etc but never see prosperity.
“Now we count the arrogant happy; evildoers not only prosper, but when they put God to the test they escape.” Malachi 3:15
In the above scripture, even Malachi, a prophet of the Old Testament, had these and greater queries, as he wondered what was the point of such obedience.
So the Lord said this about His obedient ones, “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, my special possessions on the day when I act, and I will spare them as parents spare their children who serve them.” Malachi 3:17
It is therefore wise to always remain obedient to God and benefit from His parental protection. We need to leave behind those who stray, knowing that we have “chosen the better part,” for a time will come, when God WILL justly Act but on that day, we will be spared.