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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lord and Master

Mary Kay writes:

I am currently reading through a series of excerpted devotionals from Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest that deal specifically with missionary topics. The devotion I read today (September 22) is entitled “The Missionary’s Master”. Chambers talks about how poorly we understand the term Master. We tend to equate it with “boss” – someone to be obeyed. But the word means much, much more. As Chambers writes, “To have a master and to be mastered is not the same thing. To have a master means that there is one who knows me better than I know myself, one who is closer than a friend, one who fathoms the remotest abyss of my heart and satisfies it, one who has brought me into the secure sense that he has met and solved every perplexity and problem of my mind. …In the Bible obedience is based on the relationship of equals, that of a son with his father. Our Lord was not God's servant, He was His Son. "Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience . . ."”

As I read this again, I am struck by how differently Ghanaians would interpret this than we Americans do. We take even the roles of father and son pretty lightly in our culture. So many want to be “friends”. The respect and absolute trust that obedience often requires is frequently missing, even in our parent/child relationships. Therefore, we see the son’s obedience to the father as optional – something the son does if he wants to.

Ghanaian sons would only at great personal peril (not physically perhaps, but relationally) disobey their father, or even their extended “fathers” – uncles, family friends, others in authority. Charlie and I were really struck by seeing a drama of the story of the prodigal son. At the end when the father tells the older brother to go join the party, the brother did! We had always just assumed that he stayed outside sulking – what many of our North American reactions would be. And at first, I thought that this better mirrored how God wants us to be in relationship with him. Not only obeying when we want to or it fits our agenda, but obeying always, without question.

But now as I write this and continue to ponder, I think that Ghanaians miss the mark too. For they often obey out of fear or cultural pressure. The father-son role is often very authoritarian and dictatorial. Again, though for different reasons, respect and absolute trust are missing.

I remember hearing someone (Max Lucado?) preach one time about being a father – and building that relationship of absolute trust. He told an anecdote of being in a situation where the child’s life was threatened by a poisonous snake just behind her feet. The father knew that if he told the child about the snake, she would freeze in fear and probably be bitten. But he also knew that if he just told her to slowly walk toward him, she would because she trusted him and would obey. After she was safe in his arms, he could tell her about the snake.

Oh that we could be the same – obedience to God not when we choose or desire it, and not out of fear, but out of total trust. Absolute trust that He knows what is best for us, even when we cannot see it.

"Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am." John 13:13

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