(by Joanna Blanding)
I've been asking God lately what he means by obedience.
Being a Christian means being a follower of Christ. It's not about being religious.
We have not been going to church for a couple of weeks now even before the COVID-19 happened and Mateo's battle started. And by church I mean the service (or for others the mass led by a priest, or whatever that is where someone speaks at the pulpit to teach).
We have a toddler and an infant, so sitting through an hour-long service is less entertaining for both kids compared to a stroll in the park. We listen to the service recordings when we can, but also not "religiously."
Is God upset with us? I have the confidence that he is not.
Christianity is not about religious practices. It's about obedience to God. It is about making him the authority of our life.
This week, I was reminded of what obedience is.
First, through André.
Our firstborn is very strong-willed. When he wants something, he will fight his way to get it.
The other night, he ran to a toy at a shop and demanded that I get it for him. His demands were firm. I had to stand my ground. I could have easily bought him that toy. It would be less embarrassing for me than standing there waiting for my child to finish a tantrum. But Mike and I don't want him to undermine our authority. He has to know that he has to obey us. It's no longer about the toy. It's about obedience.
And teaching him to obey us is not out of power-tripping. We love him so much that we don't want him to go the way of being entitled, being insubordinate, and being hurtful to himself and others.
It is out of love that we want him to obey us.
Second insight comes from verses that Christians would have heard over and over again:
"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
- Matthew 22:36-40
See, God's command is to love him. So, how does that look? Giving our ears and listening to his further commands. He's as if saying, "Just listen to me for one bit. Hear me out just this moment. You know how you'll love me? Love others."
He circles it back to us loving others. And that is totally for our benefit.
If you choose not to believe in God, guess what, you are still going to be a recipient of this love. Because God is speaking to other people too asking them to love you!
Obedience is for our own good.
And throughout Mateo's health battle, people have been showing such obedience.
You all are loving on us, and on the people around you. And for that, God is so pleased.
The love we've been getting from people has been tremendous. The prayers in private, the prayer chains, the worship and prayer nights, the hospital visits, the food deliveries, the financial assistance, the gifts, the babysitting, the encouraging messages, the hugs, the counselling, and so much more are all showing how you are all being obedient to God's command to love others. And we will always be humbled and thankful for that.
The #MightyMateo Legacy lives on.
Our little Mateo was highly involved in our efforts to fight online sex trafficking of children in the Philippines during his seven months of life. We believe that he'd love for us to continue this legacy.
#MightyMateo's parents document their journey through grief towards healing.