by ENZO BIANCHI
The criterion in Christian obedience is the Holy Spirit, who interiorizes the demands of the Gospel in each of us
"We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). The great biblical principle of obedience is profoundly liberating. From a biblical perspective, obedience is inseparable from freedom: only those who are free can obey, and it is only by obeying the Gospel that one enters into the fullness of freedom. Bonhoeffer put it succintly: "Obedience without freedom is slavery; freedom without obedience is anarchy." Before we look more closely at the Christian proprium of obedience, we should recall its anthropological basis. There is a fundamental form of obedience each of us is called to assume with regard to our past, our origins, our body, our family - in short, we are called to obey a series of situations, people, times, places, events, and conditions that have preceded us and given us our identity, and over which we have not had the slightest control or possibility to choose. The baggage already waiting for each of us at birth accompanies us along the path of our existence. Believers see this obedience as 'creaturely' and recognize it as part of the acceptance of limits that defines their identity as created beings before their Creator. The acceptance of limits allows men and women to become human by resisting the temptation of totality - in other words, the temptation to make themselves equal to God. In the Genesis account of creation, this is the meaning of the prohibition against eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil: human beings are human to the extent that they limit their ambition. The human relationship with God takes place within the domain of the limited and the finite. According to the Bible, obedience is to be understood in the context of this relationship - in other words, within the category of the covenant. This is the relationship with God that makes obedience to the Law revealed to Moses on Sinai liberating and even joyful.