Hi, this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…“Because I said so”.
When I was a kid, the words “Because I said so” were among my least favorite to hear. Probably because they were usually used to explain why I had to do something I didn’t want to do. “But why do I have to clean my room?” “Because I said so”. “Why do I have to go with you, can’t I just stay home?” “Because I said so”. “Awe, C’mon mom, why do I have to go to bed right now?” “Because I said so”. Mom and dad used that phrase a lot. It was kind of a catch all. I thought before I had children of my own that they used it because they didn’t really have a good reason for whatever it was they were saying I had to do at the time. Now I understand it was really offered for the same reason I came to utilize it, to stifle any further argument. It works in that regard because there really isn’t a sensible rebuttal that can stand up to “Because I said so”. My parents weren’t being lazy as I had once thought…they were simply tired of being asked why, when, where or how we had to do something they had asked us to do. In hindsight, nearly everything they used that phrase to justify were things that were for our own good. Did you know “Because I said so” reasoning is actually biblical?
Jesus Himself once told the disciples “Because I said so” when they asked Him why they had to do something that seemed over-the-top to them. In Luke chapter 17 it is recorded for us that Jesus was teaching His disciples about forgiveness. He told them that if someone were to do something that offended them they simply had to forgive that person. He went on to express the part they thought was over-the-top. He told them that even if the person were to repeatedly offend them each day causing them the same harm over and over again they must forgive that person. The disciple’s response to this teaching was that they wanted to believe that Jesus was right, but His commandment to them was so outlandish, they were going to need help gaining more ability to believe than they already possessed. In a very real sense they were politely asking Jesus why on earth He would ask them to do such a thing.
Jesus response is found in Luke 17:7-10. In the New Living Translation it reads as follows. 7 “When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, does his master say, ‘Come in and eat with me’? 8 No, he says, ‘Prepare my meal, put on your apron, and serve me while I eat. Then you can eat later.’ 9 And does the master thank the servant for doing what he was told to do? Of course not. 10 In the same way, when you obey me you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.’”
Jesus couldn’t have been more direct if He had simply said to them, “Because I said so”. In fact that is exactly what He was doing. He was pointing out the nature of their relationship to Him. Yes, they were considered His friends, it was He who referred to them that way, but He was also the teacher, the Rabbi, the Master, and they were the students, the servants. It is no different for us. His word does say we are loved by Him, that we are counted as His brothers and sisters. The bible refers to us as children and friends of God. However, we should have a healthy understanding that we are also His servants, His people, the sheep of His pastures. We can never forget that it is He who has made us and not we ourselves. (Psalm 100) If we are going to have a correct relationship with God we have to first have a corrected understanding of the relationship.
I have said it before, and undoubtedly I will say it again…many more times, He is God, I am not. I am not supposed to make my own plans for my life and pray that He will get in line with my plans. I simply must let Him lay out His plan for my life and get my thinking in line with His plan.
All of this has the potential to sound very parental and authoritative, and to some degree I suppose it is. Jesus was clear with the disciples, sometimes even God says “Because I said so”. At first glance when He says “Because I said so”, it might seem as if there are no choices to be made if we are to be obedient, but a closer look at scripture shows otherwise. The motive for obedience has everything to do with our response to bending our will to His.
We can do what God has told us to do for two different reasons. We can defer to God out of many good reasons. He is more mighty than we are. He is wiser than we are. He knows the future and we don’t. He controls enough things we don’t have any control over to “cause” us to do what He wants. He holds our very life in His hands. I could go on and on with all of the rational for deferring to God. The problem is that we defer to someone because we are afraid of what will happen if we don’t. I used to defer to my earthly father because He was bigger than I was and He wore a belt I had seen Him take off too many times as it was. I deferred to Him because I was afraid of what might happen if I didn’t.
God wants us to choose to do what He asks us to because we prefer Him. As I said a moment ago, we defer because we are afraid of what will happen if we do not. However, we prefer because we want to experience the Joy of the other as we do what they desired us to. Romans 12:10 tells us that we prefer one another as a sign of our love. When we prefer God, it is a sign that we love Him. Jesus said “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15) In the scripture reference we began with from Luke chapter 17, Jesus wanted to help the disciples…and us to know that forgiveness frees the heart of the offended. It isn’t simply for our good, forgiveness is for our freedom. God himself said of His forgiveness toward us “I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.” Isiah 43:25 (NLT) God understands that forgiveness frees our heavy hearts and the burden we will carry if we allow unforgiveness to become bitterness.
Sometimes as parents we need an answer to our children’s challenges that has no good rebuttal because we know whatever it is we have instructed them to do is for their own good and their blessing. Sometimes God needs the same strategy when it comes to us. There are occasions just as Christ did with His disciples, that He has to tell us…”Because I said so”.
So now, learning to prefer Christ and obey Him as an act of love…Go Be Awesome!