There are two ways of viewing obedience to the directives in scripture. The first is to view obedience as a challenge: the obedient warrior. The second is to view the notion of obedience as a reminder of judgement and guilt: the broken worm.
In viewing obedience as a challenge or a directive, the obedient warrior, knowing logically all are imperfect, hears messages throughout scripture that challenge all to live a perfect life. Jesus challenges us to live holy and separate from the world. He puts obedience in our hands and within our grasp, yet reminds us, through His great sacrifice, that He will indeed cover what we cannot achieve. Our love for God motivates us to try. Our desire to worship Him calls us toward repentance and obedience as we fall on our knees and thank Him for all He’s done. Obedience is our challenge to live for God not for ourselves.
The second view of obedience, the broken worm, is the daily reminder of our inadequacies and failures. The guilt driven worms that we are can never be good enough for God, so trying is irrelevant, albeit a fruitless attempt to earn favor. Grace covers all especially since we can never achieve perfection. When we are reminded of our sin, the guilt wounds our hearts to such an extent that our only comfort is in the unfathomable grace that we don’t deserve. In our broken worm state, we comfort each other in our helpless mutual failures and all improvement rests in the hands of God, Himself.
The obedient warriors work hard to please God, but risk emotionally wounding the worms when pointing to the challenge of obedience. Further, the obedient warriors risk falling into a works-based salvation as they hurriedly try to improve fellow believers. Warriors offend people often.
The broken worms recognize God’s unmatched gift, but risk becoming entrenched in a world not meant for believers at all moving farther and farther away from Christ and holiness and further into self-gratification because after all, grace will cover even the sins we can’t help but make. Worms risk never sharing the gospel at all for fear of hurting someone’s feelings and spreading the dreaded guilt.
What I’ve witnessed is that obedient warriors and broken worms have a difficult time communicating. The first tends to smash the other with scriptural directives, and the later tends to condescend with a spiritual smirk at the smallest attempt at righteousness.
I’m not sure how to make the two groups get along. I’ve been in both camps at different times of my life. What I’m coming to is that to live completely in one camp or the other isn’t spiritually healthy at all. Rather, we need both the warrior and the worm to come together and learn from one another to created a third party; faithful workers who are willing to strive to live right by God and by one another knowing we are all a part of the redeemed.
Warriors need to depend upon God.
Worms need to bow to God.
The redeemed do both.