Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Atmosphere Of Obedience

It seems the constant theme for my life these days is obedience. "It's great to say that we are Christian but if we aren't doing what Jesus told us to do then we aren't who we say we are." "Go ahead and say that you love Jesus but prove it in living his commands." These are the sort of things I have been dealing with for the past month, in the Word, in meditation, in relationships, in work. Obey.

If we are willing to examine it, most of our problems come down to disobedience, whether on purpose or through ignorance. We cause ourselves a lot of grief by not knowing and obeying the instructions Jesus gave us. Most people I see quoting Scripture verses and passing on good thoughts to others know almost nothing about what Jesus taught. But obedience didn't start with Jesus. It is something Yahweh has required of his people since the beginning.

He demanded it from Adam and Eve.

He demanded it from Noah.

He demanded it from Abraham.

He demanded it from Moses.

He demanded it from Israel.

In fact, he laid out all of his expectations to the people of Israel; he taught them his Law. He told them that they were free to go on their way, but if they chose to be his people then he would hold them accountable to the Law. Obedience was not optional and disobedience would be punished. Those are the simple facts.

It isn't that Yahweh is being mean about this. If we want a proper, intimate and blessed relationship with him, obedience must be a given. But this is not a reluctant obedience. It doesn't work with reluctance because Yahweh is looking for a people who will chose to obey because they love him. Jesus said it plainly, "If you love me, you will keep my commands." (John 14:15) And a little further on: "Whoever loves me will keep my word." (v. 23) No wiggle room there. Obey out of love.

Disobedience is a battle in us. It disturbs our peace. It causes problems. It makes us stumble. It keeps us dissatisfied, with an unfulfilled longing. But obedience allows for Yahweh's blessings to flow:

Everyone who honors the Lord,
        who walks in God’s ways, is truly happy!

You will definitely enjoy what you’ve worked hard for—
    you’ll be happy; and things will go well for you. (Psalm 128:1-2)

That's just a sample of the many Scriptures that lift up the benefits of a right relationship with Yahweh. The simple truth is that Father wants to flood our lives with his blessings but no parent can bless disobedience. Disobedience interrupts the flow of relationship, of growing together, of oneness. Obedience creates an atmosphere that allows this relationship to flourish.

If we want to walk in the ways of our God, memorizing the Law will not help, because you can't do it. That's why Jesus had to die in our place. He had to fulfill the requirements of the Law. Instead, concentrate on developing a love for the Lord which will allow for intimacy. This love will provoke you to obey because you want to please the one you love not because you are trying to manipulate him with your actions. As the old chorus goes: "Trust and obey, because there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, then to trust and obey."