Obedience is not a game, it’s a surrender

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying His voice? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, to be docile then to offer the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination and stubbornness is like iniquity and idolatry. Since you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you.”

I Samuel, 15:22

Obedience is sweet as penance is bitter.

For the Lord have more pleasure in our faithfulness than in our correction, in the use of his staff then of his rod.

What is not separated doesn’t need to be amended.

To stay close is easier than to go away and to be taken back.

All this must be said because of the pride in suffering that some people hold uselessly in their hearts, for no real benefit. The tragic sense of life as an endless walking in the shadows, trying to hit some success to then be saved again and again from all misdoings, is nothing else but a perversion of the peace and joy of real obedience.

But what is obedience? How can one be obedient?

I found it much easier to understand obedience through the path of humility. As gratitude, obedience can be seen as a consequence or a fruit of humility. Since man can’t be, by themselves, good, wise, and strong as they are supposed to be, humility recognizes the real source of all goodness, wisdom, and strength as the Grace of the Lord. And through that man can accept the ruling of the Lord in the good things as in the bad things, being grateful and obedient.

Therefore, if we try to be what we can’t, like in following the human rules alone, being the religious or the secular ones, we are going to fail, and we will fall into cynicism or into hypocrisy.

If, on the other hand, man try to accept the rule of the Lord being grateful to Him for all good, and accepting all suffering without rebellion as His rule is perfect and absolute, then there is no illusion of pride to prevent the Grace to work extensively, and man can find true rest, peace and joy.

Obedience to God as the following of man-made rules is presumptuous as all divination arts, and can only generate suffering. It is a big source of power, to accuse, to charge guilt over tired shoulders, and then to offer an expensive payout. The base of this madness is the sadism of some few towards the masochism of the many, replicating over and over the tradition of pride for suffering and for holding power.

In total opposition, Love is this self-regulatory authority that restrains power, an untouchable instance above all control, hovering freely and dangerously over any limitations. Belief in Love is incompatible with pride for suffering and for power. And that is the reason why all the powers of this world will always fight a struggle of life and death against the true testimony of the sufficiency of God’s Love. This is why Jesus is really dangerous: His message destroys all bondage and slavery.

Saul and the Amalekites

Samuel severely rebuked the disobedience of Saul and revealed that God have rejected him as a king.

Saul presumed that God would prefer the taking of some spoil from the Amalekites for a sacrifice, then the complete destruction of the people and their possessions. In his presumption he disobeyed, distorting the rule of God to suit his own convenient interpretation.

The translation of this case for the spiritual life, in general, is made by the enforcement of the strictness of the religious rule by the power of the oral tradition. Saul disobeyed a direct command by doing a personal decision of conscience, a liberal interpretation, and that constitutes a crime as big as the divinatory arts of sorcery.

In the same way, the authorities of the religious traditions condemn the praise of Love and the ruling of the individual consciousness as this destructive liberal path that brings open disobedience against the Law.

If that is the case, why I have collected this particular passage about Saul and the Amalekites?

Curiously, the first time I read this passage in my own path of Faith, I got an entirely different interpretation. My view was that all human presumption of knowledge over the will of God was vain and futile. Saul was not disobeying Samuel and the religious interpretation of the rule of God: he was disobeying God directly. He was not living with God, and therefore could not listen to God’s voice in his heart, so his freedom drifted him away from God’s wishes. One could always say that the case proofs that the individual interpretation drifted Saul away to disobedience when the less individualistic and strict following of God’s commands through the instruction of Samuel would result in obedience.

But how can one be really obedient, if not being individually responsible?

Isn’t obedience the free personal individual acceptance of the rule of God?

This whole idea against personal responsibility is at least a distraction, and maybe even an antispiritual conception. Let’s check this.

Saying that Saul should obey the command received through Samuel independently of his personal relationship with God is the denial of the possibility of that relation, and therefore the spiritual uselessness of his anoitance. It is at the individual level that the spiritual life exists really. It makes no sense to say that Saul was spiritually worse because he was more individually conscious and free. Should he be less free and automated? God had all this trouble creating free creatures, so they could decide to be commanded as robots? Of course not. The whole meaning of the spiritual life is the free acceptance of the rule of God, and that can be done only personally and individually. And this is why pointing to the direct instructions from Samuel works as a distraction, because if that particular instruction, in that particular case, was so strong and perfect like the force of gravity or like any mathematical equation, then it doesn’t matter the questioning about the source of authority, just the individual free reaction from Saul. The oral tradition loves to point to this infallibility as the base of the condemnation of Saul because this can be borrowed to justify the ruling of the current religious authority. But the inconvenience of his behavior as a personal deviation was possible only if also the personal acceptance of the rule of God could happen.

His rejection was personal as his acceptance should also be personal. Otherwise, we are talking again about that spiritual bolshevism under the rule of the Bishop, the collectivism that empowers the System of the Beast.

If we just compare Saul with David, we can see this clearly, because David was not in less use of his individual freedom and personal relationship with God. Religiously speaking, David could be even less prominent than Saul. Saul was a more honorable member of the nation and tribe and was anointed according to the will of the people because this is what they wanted, the appearance of honor and value. David, on the other hand, was anointed by the will of God, and that is not because he was the most obedient to the authority of religion, but because he lived before God and listened to the Law of God in his heart.

Saul actually presumed for the benefit of his own practice of religion: sacrificing for the profit of the human power, working the magic of paying tributes to be able to do his own will, presuming to have the knowledge of the will of God instead of obeying a direct command.

And this is the key to understand the whole matter: what is the direct command of God?

Religion sells the knowledge from their own oral tradition as the correct interpretation of the Law of God, in which case the ruling of individual consciousness is rebuked as heretical liberalism, or in the better cases is isolated as a mystical experience that should not interfere with the major legalistic order.

But was that the case with Saul and the Amalekites?

Saul was the anointed King of Israel and literally received direct commands from God through the prophet Samuel. The destruction of the Amalekites was a direct order from God (I Sam, 15:3).

This can be compared with the right of ruling from the religious tradition only if we understand that the infallibility of Samuel is perfectly transferred to his wanna-be heirs. In other terms: the prophetic authority was religious so the current religious authority can be also prophetic?

That is impossible by the testimony of the future prophets themselves since false prophecy not only grows but actually grasps the control of the religion many times. True prophecy is a mystery, not a human property. No, there is no infallibility in religion as there is no infallibility in human “prophecy”.

What the Word of God testifies in the case of Saul was his personal disobedience, for the seeking of his own personal power, managing the very religious practice to suit his will, as he did collecting spoils for sacrifices and also by erecting a monument for himself in Carmel (I Sam, 15:12).

If Saul’s disobedience was rooted in his personal pride and lust for power, THAT was the source of his departure from the presence of the Lord. He only disobeyed personally because he could obey personally; the order from God through the mouth of the prophet could be personally disregarded only because it could also be personally accepted.

The prophetic authority could not and would never deny the perfect rule of living in His Presence or to recognize the wisdom of His Name as the One Who Is. This is practiced, otherwise, by the false prophets, who want to usurp the authority of God and to have power over men.

Obeying the Law of Love

I had all this trouble, working at least three times more than usual, just to explain how obedience is not the following of the authority of the human traditions. If that was any more complicated, I could get to the conclusion that just ignoring the passage was a better solution.

Since at least I hope, it is now clear that the whole point is not to deny the personal responsibility for obedience, let’s concentrate on the main question: how can we be obedient after all?

If God rules with a will that can’t be known, how can that will be obeyed?

If we don’t have the knowledge, how can we be disobedient for not following a Law that we ignore?

Well, to answer this question we need to understand what we mean when we think about knowledge itself.

As a human property, controlled by the human intellect, knowledge is an understanding that can be stabilized in some form of language and then collectively shared. We could even risk saying that human knowledge is the human language, the discursive power, the logical reasoning of arguments using terms commonly accepted. If we accept this idea, then it is very clear how that knowledge is limited, since the human language as a capacity to represent reality in discoursive terms is extremely poor, if you take the point of view of the experienced reality. If you take the point of view of human knowledge, it works like a machine, like a computer, that can’t just recognize its own ignorance because can’t project any possible knowledge transcending its own capacity. This very limited point of view can be universalized, and that is the trapping of the human consciousness inside the limits of human reason. In spiritual terms, this is the pride that produces false idols to be worshipped in the place of God. Gnosis is, therefore, the source of all idolatry: the belief in the power of knowledge as control and domain.

We can only have, as something that is our property and is under our control, something that has the appearance of knowledge because of our capacity to manipulate it, and because of our ability to share it collectively. Human knowledge must be a peer reviewable idea that is necessarily limited by the channel used as a medium to the transmission. Basically, if we have control of our knowledge, then we can only know what is under our control, and any truth away from our control is away from the range of our knowledge.

Universal truth must be transcendental, otherwise, it is just a human invention.

And being so the case, knowledge as the understanding of this universal truth can’t be human property. The human intellect can point and talk about the truth, but can’t have domain and control over it. Human knowledge, when is well wielded, is an analogous expression of the ultimate truth that transcends always the human intellect.

But if we just have, as our intellectual property, an analogy of real knowledge, how can we be obedient to the will of God? If His will is truthful on a level that can’t be grasped by the human intellect, how could we be responsible for obeying or disobeying?

The answer, as usually is the case, is contained in the premise: we can be obedient by being humble and assuming our ignorance of His will.

Reality is under His control, not under ours.

Our obedience will be produced by His Grace in our lives, as we live, step by step, in His presence, and in constant waiting for His rulings and decrees. His will and His Law are printed in His Providence, and it is inescapable.

We obey by living in His presence, knowing His will in the very experience of our lives, instead of dealing with the analogy of His will in our mind. Our “knowledge” of His will is this petrified failure, this disgraceful pretension to lock the will of the Almighty inside the understanding of the mind of a mere creature.

But this can be so, so scary. Freedom is scary because you just need to trust, you can’t really control, you can’t be good on your own terms. You can just trust.

Those that confess their blindness will see God because they are living in trusting Him.

But those who think they can see God already will, if they insist in their pretension, be rejected because they failed in living by pure trust in His Grace.

We obey the Law of Love by believing in Love, trusting that the will of God will always triumph, waiting always for His Providence to rule our lives, and in what depends on our judgment, deciding with our best consciousness at any given time. The Lord Himself said once: don’t ask for any power, because you can’t be found as just before God.

Humility prevents the human ambition to know the will of God, and this is how we can be ruled by His will, by trusting in Him alone, since all reality bends to His will.

To obey the Law is to believe in His Love ruling everything in our lives and around us, to infinity.

Any other law is a human pretension to know the Law above all our capacity and serves only for the sake of power, intimidation, bondage, and slavery. When Love alone is not assured by trust and goodwill, man becomes like a god to himself, and everything falls into chaos and destruction. This is the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge: the sin against Love, the distrust and malice of pride, an endless accusation and condemnation that turns against all life in the end. This is the heart of darkness, a wish for death and destruction without limits, because who can really stand to do justice?

Well, Jesus Christ stands to do justice.

The Son of God, perfect before the Father, is the Justice for the entire creation.

He justifies all free men that believe in the Love of God and that live by Grace alone through His free gift of life.

This is the fruit of the Tree of Life: the acceptance of Love, the trust and belief, a wish for a life that never ends.

Let the proud and unfaithful rot while they try to see with their own eyes and win this impossible game they are trying to play.

Let the faithful live by trusting, and let Faith alone be their only justice.

This is how you obey the Law of Love: you trust God and His ruling for your entire life. You walk your steps in the way built by His Providence. And in what depends on your judgment, you do your best in goodwill, because you trust He is not setting a trap to you. Just on contrary, even if you fail and stumble, He saves you from falling.

Obedience is the sweetness of our hearts to accept His will as what it is: inevitable, irresistible, and invincible.

Trust is sweet and liberating, it is the hope for this ever-coming promise, this continuous fulfilling of His will regardless of all resistance.

It’s not that Love will triumph… it already had. Obedience is surrendering to that.

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