Whether it is an actual filibuster or the threat of one, Congress uses this to thwart the will of the opposing political party. This isn’t the worst use of a filibuster. Tragically, we filibuster God. Doing this diminishes our well-being because we are stealing the reception of treasured blessings God desires for us and others to have both now and eternally.
A filibuster is an attempt at freezing forward action on important issues. It is the stealing or stalling of time, thoughts, and potentially necessary discussion. Legal loopholes allow the person who filibusters to push, pull, twist or hamper another’s agenda.
Because of this, you may not be surprised to find out now that the origins of the word trace back to Dutch, French, and Spanish meanings and are tied to practices of theft, piracy, and insurrectionist activities. The Dutch connection has the word meaning “freebooter” where the French meaning has ties to piracy and the Spanish to insurrectionist activities. Regardless of which word origin we consider, someone else’s treasures and goods are being affected in a negative and often amoral way.
This holds true in the spiritual world too. Filibustering God is about more than using words that delay – talk without the walk. It can be filling our minds, ears, and hearts with so many other forms of misdirection we lose the speed of the path we are to take that will be blessed by God’s power.
On some issues, as it did for me until I finally submitted to appropriately and biblically giving from what I earned or received no matter what, this slowness of action can last decades. God could have used that stolen treasure in many ways to bless me and others too if I had only obeyed instead of filibustering Him.
When we filibuster, the harmony God desires to share with us becomes an overwhelming discordant drama. We allow the sound and the fury of the world to block the sweet, saving sounds of a Savior who desires alacrity instead of mediocrity – liveliness and eagerness instead of indifference and complacency.
But alacrity about what?
It is an alacrity in our obedience to God and His commands. When we use excuses instead of execution of His will or when we talk the talk instead of walking His walk, we are in disobedience. Instead of willingness to follow God’s command and call, we sacrifice hollow words instead of surrendering all.
But we know that’s not the whole story, is it? We ignore God. Often we fill our ears and minds with peripheral matters just so we don’t have to address the issues and commands coming to us from God’s Word. We fill our time and minds in order to ignore God’s will as prime. It is the classic, yet often unspoken fool’s game of “How little can I give God and still claim Him as mine?”
Tragically, the answer is you can give very little because it is only a claim, and the cost of doing this is colossal.
The Bible warns us about the ease of doing this in at least two ways. First in the deception of our own hearts (Jeremiah 17:9), and secondly, in the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23 where those who claim to be saved by God are told in verse 23, “And then I [Jesus] will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’“ Practicing lawlessness is another way of saying “Being disobedient to God’s laws and commands.”
I told you this was salient because who of us wants to hear, “I know you not…”?
So the importance of staying in God’s Word and knowing what it says so we can turn from evil and towards good remains valid and necessary.
True faith, love, repentance, and obedience
Repentance is obedience, but it is not a “one-and-done” action. Sanctification, becoming more like Christ, requires back-and-forth feedback from God’s Word and will into our lives in order for faith to best be manifested. Renewing our minds means keeping our minds and hearts filled with words from Scripture so God can prune and shape us where His ways become our ways.
It is too easy to let culture marinate our minds and push us toward sin and mediocrity. If you have a type-A personality you can even achieve excellence but still fall short of what is important in your relationship with God.
But you love God. Great! So do I. Even so, Jesus directly challenges our feelings of love with acts of obedience like in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” These “If … then” statements are found throughout the Bible and often speak of blessings related to obedience.
The Bible is huge on obedience. But are we? Are we willing to take the actions required of us just because God requires them? Or are we more like those who pick, choose, and define what faithful action is and ignore those difficult parts for us within the Bible? Then, do we claim to cover our known disobedience with “grace and faith” while not even trying to mortify the sin?
One author, Steve Lawson, writes in “Grace-Fueled Obedience is Absolutely Necessary for Christlikeness” the following:
Many who profess Christ today emphasize a wrong view of grace that makes it a free pass to do whatever they please. Tragically, they have convinced themselves that the Christian life can be lived without any binding obligation to the moral law of God. In this hyper-grace distortion, the need for obedience has been neutered. The commandments of God are no longer in the driver’s seat of Christian living, but have been relegated to the backseat, if not the trunk—like a spare tire — to be used only in case of an emergency. With such a spirit of antinomianism, what needs to be reinforced again is the necessity of obedience.
For all true followers of Christ, obedience is never peripheral. At the heart of what it means to be a disciple of our Lord is living in loving devotion to God. But if such love is real, the acid test is obedience. Jesus maintained, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Genuine love for Christ will always manifest itself in obedience.
Dr. David Jeremiah expands on true versus claimed love for Christ and true versus claimed faith in Christ by sharing from the life of Abraham in “Taking the Step of Faith” during one sermon (approximately six minutes in):
What is faith? Faith is primarily obedience to what God has said. … God has asked you to put your trust in the revelation that He has already given you, and the revelation that He will give you in the future from His holy Word. And when you obey, you exercise your faith. What does it mean to walk by faith? It means to walk in obedience to Almighty God – no matter what anybody else says. That person who knows God and is walking by faith says I have higher orders. And they walk by faith and do what God tells them to do. And when they walk by faith and not by sight, they begin to stand out from among the rest. What God wants from you and what He wants from me is He wants us to walk by faith and to be obedient to what He tells us in His Word.
Jeremiah tries to help us by stating what we don’t want to acknowledge in our own lives but often know, “Some of you are stalled in your faith walk.” He says this between the 14- and 15-minute marks and then offers this as the reason why: “Disobeyed instructions delay additional instructions.” This is something I know to be completely true about obeying God in my life and the favor God shows: I have never regretted obeying Him, but I have regretted not obeying Him more quickly. Delay is still disobedience.
Finally, the biggest loss from filibustering God in our lives is something Jeremiah talks of here at approximately the 10-minute mark:
When you walk in faith, you walk in fellowship. And part of your fellowship is worshipping Almighty God. How many of you know that when God has told you to do something and you do it, there this wonderful communication that goes on between you? But when God tells you to do something and you waver or you don’t do it, it’s almost like the ceiling is as high as your prayers go. And sometimes you even feel just so foolish praying, because you know down deep in your heart How can I pray? because the Bible says “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” [Psalm 66:18, KJV].
Losing fellowship with God because we filibuster Him harms us more than it ever would Him. Even if we are not faithful, God will find someone who will be so His will can be fulfilled here as it is in heaven.
When we read and hear God’s Word to obey, it is as if we have another opportunity for obedience like that found in Isaiah 6:8, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, “Here am I. Send me.”
Will you stop filibustering God so He can bless you and others through His power? God help us to "Trust and Obey," because, as the song says and the Bible indirectly shares too, "for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."