As quilters, we follow patterns. Patterns may come from books, magazines, blogs or from our own ideas. Wherever they come from, we follow the pattern to know how much fabric we need and in what colours. We follow it through the making of units and blocks, then through assembling those pieces into a completed quilt top.
|Some of the patterns I've been following lately|
Usually, we play with the colours so the quilt we make is an expression of our own style, even if it was designed by someone else. That's why six different quilters can use the same pattern and get wonderfully different results.
Even when we change the colour scheme, we are still following the pattern. Deviating from it can cause problems. If I don't pay attention to the cutting instructions, my pieces won't fit together. Ask me how I know this! If I want my quilt to go together smoothly, I have to obey the pattern.
Writing to the Romans, Paul said, "Through [Jesus] and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ." (Romans 1:5,6)
In The Message paraphrase, Eugene Peterson writes it this way, "Through him we received both the generous gift of his life and the urgent task of passing it on to others who receive it by entering into obedient trust in Jesus. You are who you are through this gift and call of Jesus Christ!"
I find it interesting that Paul isn't focused on salvation here, though that certainly comes only through faith in Jesus. Here, Paul is looking at things from a slightly different angle. We belong to Jesus and we have been called to the obedience that comes from faith, to obedient trust. Which begs the question - obedience to what, exactly?
In John's gospel, chapters 14 and 15, Jesus had this to say about obedience.
"If you love me, you will obey what I command." (John 14:15)
"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." (John 14:21)
"If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching." (John 14 :23, 24)
"If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love." (John 15:10)
So, first, we are to obey his commands. In John 15:17, Jesus said, "This is my command: Love one another."
That's not exactly an easy command to obey. It's easy to love my husband, my boys, my parents and my friends. It's not so easy to love people who are annoying or obnoxious or who make me uncomfortable. But Jesus makes it clear in the Sermon on the Mount that we aren't expected to love only those who are easy to love. "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5:43-44)
Ouch. I don't have anyone that could be even remotely considered an enemy, but I still have trouble loving everyone around me. Obviously, I still need to work on my obedience.
We are also to obey his teaching. Jesus taught about many things. Prayer, worry, judging others, the love of money and much, much more. How can we obey His teaching on all these things if we don't know it?
We have to read our Bibles, coming back to them again and again, seeking to learn and understand a little more each time. Then, when we understand His teaching, we have to obey it.
When I follow a quilt pattern, there is still freedom to express my unique personality. Likewise, in obeying Jesus, there is still freedom to be me. How I show love to others may be different from how you do. Our personalities will influence our actions and that's fine, as long as our actions express our obedient trust in Jesus.
Obedience doesn't come easy. But we want our lives to follow God's pattern, and that requires learning to live in the obedience that comes from faith.