Earlier this week, I was having a conversation about knee-jerk reactions. At first, I was arguing that there are certain situations that warrant a knee-jerk reaction. I shared my belief that there are some things that are just wrong and it’s okay to have knee-jerk reactions to those things. As we continued talking, I realized an error in my thinking.
It’s true – there are in fact some things that are inherently wrong. Murder, rape, pornography, and adultery to name a few. But here’s the thing – if I just grow up thinking that all of these things are wrong without ever looking at the Bible and understanding why they are wrong, then my knee-jerk reactions against these things are rooted in blind acceptance instead of the living and abiding Truth within my heart. In order to truly “hate what is evil [and] cling to what is good,“ we need to know His Word and understand the heart of His commandments (Romans 12:9).
Blind obedience can be a very dangerous practice. It stands in the way of our sanctification by preventing us from thinking critically about the work God is doing in our lives. Without questioning and evaluating, we cannot be transformed because we won’t see our need to. By bearing the name of Christ, we are held to a standard of righteousness that implores us to persistently pursue knowledge of and communion with our Lord.
Each day, we are faced with decisions to either honor or dishonor Christ. Many of us try to get around the effort that comes along with truly seeking God, making statements such as “Don’t spend a lot of time thinking about God, just love Him!” When I really break down this mentality, I’m struck by how flawed it is, simply because you cannot truly love something that you do not understand. The claim that “Good lovers are students of the Beloved” seems to be particularly accurate; I cannot love well unless I am abiding in intimate fellowship with the true source and example of selfless love – Jesus Christ.
We may possess the desire to follow and honor Christ and present our undivided hearts and minds to him, but sin and righteousness are at war within us, and this is the great obstacle of our sanctification. Paul comments on this unfortunate reality in Romans 7, when he admits, “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me” (Romans 7:21-23).
I serve a God who knows the depths of my heart. He knows my areas of weakness, and He challenges me to grow in patience, peace, and boldness, each day inviting me to experience His love in different ways. These challenges are apart of my sanctification, and through them, I’m reminded that “[I am] not [my] own; [I was] bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20). I’m taught who I am and who I’m not and who Christ wants me to be. I don’t have all of the answers, but I at least know enough to keep asking questions. In my questioning, He meets with me.
If we resign ourselves to these passive philosophies of “just love God” or “just be a good person,” we miss His invitation to partake in intimate community with Him. We miss opportunities to grow in the fullness that He has intended and to live out the love that He has tasked us with revealing.