Obedience, Law, and Charles Hebdo Attack

59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
— Luke 9:59-60

 Before the command of Jesus all laws are superfluous. We cannot make a complete commitment to follow until we are ready to let go of all laws and their tempting but false promises of justification. Just as Adam and Eve’s obedience demanded that they forget the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, so our trust in Christ means distrust of our judgments.

But does this mean we don’t make any discernments of what is good and evil? How about the terrorists in Charlie Hebdo attack who killed innocents in the name of “Allah.” Did they not justify their action as obedience to their “god?”

Central to the life of obedience to Christians is the person commanding. Our obedience is to a person, Jesus. And Jesus did not leave us ignorant of his personhood. We have four gospels that tell his story. We have numerous letters from people who got to know him personally, and his personality comes out in them and in their words. And there is the Holy Spirit who is constantly reminding his people of Jesus. With Scripture and Spirit, Christ’s commands are not nebulous. Christ commands us to greater love for God and our neighbors. Christ gives specific commands that creates greater love. The clarity of specific commands comes from a personal knowing of Jesus.

Jesus, then, does not command the murder of innocents. When Peter slashed an ear off from a temple guard, ready to coronate Jesus by blood, Jesus pushed Peter’s sword back into its sheath, We can be sure that it was not Jesus whispering into the terrorists ears.

The terrorists did not hear from God. They used name of God to absolutize their categories of good and evil. Once their targets were turned to “infidels” it gave them a perverted moral space for carrying out their terror. They were men of the law, saw themselves as the hammer of the law, so they could not see that the law was diabolical. They were disobeying God.