1. What are your associations with the term “obedient?” Do you see it as something positive? Negative? Why do we talk about obedience as a virtue?
2. President Kimball distinguishes between “blind obedience” and “faith obedience,” explaining that the latter involves trust in the character and judgment of the one making the request. How do you develop the kind of trust in God that allows for this? What things have helped you at times in your life when it’s been difficult to trust God?
3. Since faith does not entail perfect knowledge, it seems that even faith obedience always has an element of uncertainty. How, then, do you avoid the pitfall of blind obedience?
4. How do you deal with (religious) situations when you’re not sure whether obedience is the right course of action, or you disagree with what’s being asked of you?
5. President Kimball quotes Moses 5:6-7:
“And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.
“And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.”
Why does the angel explain the reasons behind the command? What message(s) do you see in this passage about faith and obedience?
6. President Kimball explains that “the exercising of faith is a willingness to accept without total regular proof and to move forward and perform works.” If we understand faith as acting in the absence of certainty, it seems that much of life requires some degree of faith. How do you find a balance between hesitating too much before acting, and acting too quickly with too little information?
7. President Kimball observes that faith precedes the miracle, noting that the scriptures tell us that God requires faith in order to do miracles (see for example, Ether 12:12). Why would that be? If God genuinely wants to bless us, why would he put us “on trial” first?
8. What if you exercise faith, and yet the miracle never happens, or the witness doesn’t come? If that’s happened in your life, what sense have you made of it? How has it affected your understanding of faith?
9. What is the difference between faith and positive (or even wishful) thinking?
Lynette, you make me wish I were either teaching RS or attending yours.
I always associate the principle of obedience with a story told by my dad. I wrote it up for the Friend magazine and it was published last year (I think) under the title “Stop!”
My dad and his brothers were running in an alpine field. Their father called to them sternly and suddenly from far behind to stop. They obeyed, and he showed them the hidden cliff they could have run off if they had not obeyed.
They trusted their dad. They knew he knew better than they did. But they also just respected his authority. It’s an interesting combination of reasons to obey.
I have a knee-jerk reaction to the term “obedience.” I don’t necessarily think it is the same as compliance with authority figures, which is what people often mean when they use that term. As Stanley Milgram showed, a surprising number of people will do even morally reprehensible things when told to by an authority figure. I’m a firm believer in questioning and thinking for one’s self.
My DH has done a lot of thought and study on the subject of obedience, and his conclusion, which he believes to be scripturally supported, is that we do not obey people. We obey laws. The more our actions are in accordance with the laws of the universe, the more blessed and God-like we will be. As in:
20. There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundation of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated– 21. And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.
It’s not like me to quote scripture, but this one is powerful for me. I believe firmly in “working out my own salvation with fear and trembling.” Before following a mandate from a church leader, I would seek confirmation of the spirit through my faith in God to make sure that it is in alignment with God’s law and what is best for me.