While reading a recent post from Wintery Knight, I stumbled upon an excellent little article from Tough Questions Answered. I’m just passing this along third-hand, so I definitely recommend checking out the entire thing:
“Many of the people I know who reject God or who have crafted a God that makes no demands on them have a fundamental problem with authority. They don’t want anybody telling them what to do.
For a person who wants complete autonomy, who chafes at the thought of anyone having authority over them, a creator God who makes demands is way inconvenient.
Many people who believe in God, but also have this authority hang-up, create their own version of God. This God gives them what they want when they want it. He approves of everything they do, as long as they are just trying to be happy. He encourages them to follow their desires, wherever they lead. C. S. Lewis compared this God to a senile, old grandfather who never says “no” to his grandchildren. You want chocolate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? No problem!” (continue reading here)
This resonated with me because I, too, have observed a correlation between those who reject traditional Christianity (either by adopting a very flimsy, self-centered, humanistic kind of theology, or by turning to atheism or agnosticism), and those who have difficulty accepting authority in general. This seems particularly true for my own generation.
I was also reminded of a college class I took in which we studied the book of Genesis. My classmates came from very diverse backgrounds, so this opened the door for some interesting discussions (to say the least). One of the most prominent themes in Genesis is the idea of “faithful obedience”. Just think about Adam and Eve being instructed by God not to eat from a specific tree; think about Noah being instructed by God to build an ark; think about Abraham being instructed by God to leave his homeland, and later being told to sacrifice his son Isaac.
In every case, the individual is being asked to submit to God’s authority as an act of faith. Quite honestly, this is a virtue that isn’t widely recognized by society today (nor was it regarded as such by most of my fellow students). From the time we’re children, we’re constantly being taught to question all forms of authority – to analyze and critically examine the world around us. I mean, let’s face it: to most people, words like “rebellion” and “independence” carry a lot more appeal than the word “obedience”. The thought of putting aside our own reason and placing our trust in God’s authority is often regarded as a sign of ignorance, weakness, even foolishness.
Yet if we take the Bible seriously, we see that this kind of obedience really is a virtue. I would even go so far as to say that humble obedience to God is the most basic and fundamental form of good. After all, it’s the exact opposite of pride – arguably the most basic and fundamental form of evil.