I think I am considering the question is obedience always an exercise of faith[?] or when is obedience *not* an exercise of faith[?], and I am referring to the expression the "obedience of faith" in terms of a system that one subscribes to and prescribes for others . . . and in this there can be as much of a faith in a system as there is anything else. In this there can be a kind of surrender that is nothing more than an escapism or a very sophisticated system of non-surrender so that what one wants to do he can do. Or, this can be seen in a kind of relinquishing of control in a way that places some seemingly in a place of no blame if things don't go well (with something akin to a golden parachute in their minds), because 'I was just doing what I was told.' I see this a lot with my Catholic friends, it is so clear that they have their defense for God already to go for Judgment Day, in that I believed what the Church taught and I did what the Church taught, so don't blame me if something wasn't right! For some reason this is more overt with them. But, when we consider this along side "faith" in terms of faith in Christ, then there is not so much room for system(s) and faith in a system as there is faith in a Person. So there is a tension here in this way I think, and this tension is behind my IQ question above. What is systematic for one is non-systematic for another.
As far as my wife's canning jars full of good things goes, if you force me to think about it further then I think I will conclude that it is a very simple thing in that while she has sacrificed of herself to put these up, they are freely offered in Love in the hope that they will be accepted in Love. So in the End, Love would hold the seat of primacy there.
I think Rick brings up some really good points here and thought the topic worth its own thread dealing with the question of what is meant by a proper Christian obedience. Often obedience is brought up only in the context of obedience to the authorities of the Church, particularly to one's spiritual father, but I think, as Rick notes here, the real issue is the heart of the person trying to obey and I would like to focus this thread on obedience as a disposition of the heart, and how this disposition helps our relationships with all people rather then a specific discussion of the relationship with our spiritual father or other church authorties.
Here are a few quotes I found that might start this out.
"When we are together, we should be like one single man, in the image of the Triune God who is one single God. We cannot achieve this unless we have in us the Holy Spirit, and not the inner disorder of our bad thoughts. How can we aquire this grace?What must we do so that God and His Holy Spirit live in us? We must be obedient. It is only by permanent attentiveness to our brother and our sister that we will succeed in developing in ourselves a sort of radar, by which we will feel what others are feeling, their will their spiritual state. And contrariwise, if we do not practice obedience, if we seek first our own comfort, we will be separated form the others and then there will be a state of war."
"Spiritual obedience is necessary in daily life. prefer the will of another to your own. Accept with a postive attitude everything your spiritual father, or your brother or sister, asks of you. In this way, little by little an atmosphere will be created within you and around you in which your heart will become very gentle, very sensitive to every inner movement, to every spiritual variation." (Elder Sophrony, "Words of Life")
"In obedience to you," the Saint replied.
The emphases here when understanding what obedience is, is not on a proper action in response to a given order, but rather a growing sensitivity and responsiveness to the real needs of the other.
maybe we could find other quotes and stories along these lines.