The cross forever removed the issue of punishment from the Christian life. The real issue is trust and obedience. When God called me back to L.A., He was asking me to trust Him and His Word above human threats or personal fears. What I did not fully understand then, but eventually came to recognize, is that faith is not one-sided. God was actually asking me to trust Him because He trusted me and wanted to trust me more. George MacDonald, one of my favorite writers on obedience, expressed this trust in a poem:
We must to the thing we must
Before the thing we may;
We are unfit for any trust
Till we can and do obey.
MacDonald also said, "There are good things God must delay in giving us. God must first make His child fit to receive and fit to have." I think of a father who would love nothing better than to give his sixteen-year-old son a car for his birthday. But his son needs to learn to drive, prove that he can obey the rules of the road and demonstrate that he is trustworthy before his dad will consider getting him a car. On the other hand, if the son is rebellious, lazy or cannot be trusted, the father knows that giving his son a car will mean the young man's demise!
Though it will be different for each of us, what is the "car" that God wants to entrust to you or me? Jesus said, "It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:32). Our Dad wants to give us the entire Kingdom! The process of learning obedience makes us trustworthy to receive the prize of our Father's purposes for us.
I now understand that the depth of my obedience determines the level of authority I carry in God. In other words, the level of authority I have in the Kingdom is in direct proportion to my ability to submit to the King. This was the truth the Roman centurion recognized about Jesus - he knew Jesus had God's authority because He was under God's authority, fully obedient to God's marching orders. And the centurion recognized this because he also was "a man under authority" (Matthew 8:9).
It makes perfect sense to me that a military man was the one who recognized that Jesus' power signaled His submission to authority. The Army drilled a high value for obedience into my life. At first, all the orders and threats seemed extreme, but I realized later that soldiers entrusted with deadly weapons and commissioned to protect the nation must carry a profound sense of responsibility and authority. Likewise, the Father trusted Jesus to carry heaven's full arsenal and wealth with Him wherever He went because Jesus' heart was fully bound to the Father's will.
EXCERPT from Outrageous Courage
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