July 17, 2011

Learning from robots to improve our relationship with God

You may ask having read the title, ‘what can we learn from robots?’ Now before we get into that, let’s really understand what robots are. Robots are mainly machines that programmed or commanded to undertake tasks in which it mimics a human or an animal. Some of them like those made in South Korea are made to interact with humans. They are expected to work using their own sensors and intelligence. They do not have emotions though we are almost given the impression from some movies. A robot is able to do a task repeatedly because it is programmed to do so. It does not have to think about it. And so it does not try to rationalize the instruction; complain about it or contemplate whether to do it or not. It just executes the order.

Now what can we learn from robots? Obeying instructions! Robots always comply to instructions. When God gives us instructions, he knows better than we do. He has seen the end from the beginning before giving the instructions. So when we do not comply or dismiss what we hear, it is disregarding the one who gave the instruction.

One man in the bible that has challenged me is Abraham. God had promised him that his descendants shall be like the sand of the sea. If sand of the sea can be counted then so shall his descendants be. After 25 years of God promising to give him a child, he had Isaac. When Isaac had grown; perhaps a teenager (age was not specified) God asked Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham did not negotiate; he did not try to remind God about his promise and he did not dismiss what he heard. Rather he complied; he set out to sacrifice Isaac. As they prepared for the journey to the land of Moriah as God directed (Genesis 22), Isaac observed there was no animal for sacrifice. He asked his father Abraham who simply replied, “The Lord shall provide”.

Abraham sure acted like a robot by being instantaneous in his obedience with no complaints or debate, though I would like to consider him a robot extraordinaire. The only aspect we are to learn from robots is complying. However, like my friend Ada said, ‘while robots obey out of duty or programming, we ought to obey out of love.’ We ought to obey out of the knowledge we have of God. Yes, I realize that whether our obedience is instant or delayed; undertaken happily or grudgingly depends on our faith and knowledge of God:

“By faith, Abraham, at the time of testing, offered Isaac back to God. Acting in faith, he was as ready to return the promised son, his only son, as he had been to receive him—and this after he had already been told, "Your descendants shall come from Isaac." Abraham figured that if God wanted to, he could raise the dead. In a sense, that's what happened when he received Isaac back, alive from off the altar”. (Hebrew 11:17-19; The Message).

Abraham’s knowledge and belief in God enabled him to pass the test of obedience even though he stood possibly to lose his only son.

All said; obeying God is not in our power. No wonder Jeremiah talked about God training him to obedience (Jeremiah 31:19, The Message) and David pleaded with God to train him to obey (Psalm 86:11; 25:4,5; and 119). David went ahead in Psalm 119 to state that he had more insights than his teachers and was wiser than the elderly by thinking of God’s word and doing what God told him.

If we keep disobeying or obeying grudgingly and not out of love, God will communicate less. However, the more we obey the more God reveals. Our lives and community will be better for it. Our relationship with God will improve; our purpose here on earth accomplished and God will be glorified.

I would love to hear from you. Do you think that Abraham’s kind of faith is still possible in our time? Can we obey God like Abraham and have the kind of relationship he had with God?

Image by Leeloomultipass @ dreamstime


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