Saturday, July 13, 2013

Obedience: A Concept Of A Gone By Era?

Obedience seems to be a concept relegated to a gone by era. Obedience to authority, whether it be parents, police, governments appears to be something that is suggested but circumvented by the individuals right to "think for themselves". We now live in the enlightened age of the individual where anarchists will soon see their desires fulfilled. After all, what else can we expect when each individual is allowed to define their own sense of right and wrong? But of course we should not be surprised with our struggle with obedience.

Our entire character is deformed by the very first act of disobedience and since that moment we have been governed by a spirit of rebellion. The urge to come against authority is in us from birth and is easily detected in "innocent" toddlers. But since the very beginning God has sought a relationship with us built on love, trust and obedience. Obedience is a fundamental part of our relationship with our Father. It is instilled in the law that we were unable to fulfill before Jesus. Apostle Paul reminds us of that law:

Children, you belong to the Lord, and you do the right thing when you obey your parents. The first commandment with a promise says, “Obey your father and your mother, and you will have a long and happy life.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)

So often when you talk about obedience the sinful nature rises up and we start to hear words such as "control", "oppression" and "abuse". But those are situations where obedience is demanded with an absence of love. In the context of what we read in the Word, love is the underlying factor. You cannot have a desire to obey unless it comes from a place of love and trust. But let's not overlook the benefits of obedience.

Paul pointed out that the law to obey is the first one that came with a promises and that promise was of a long and happy life. This is the same promise that Solomon emphasized with his son:

My child, if you listen
and obey my teachings,
    you will live a long time. (Proverbs 4:10)

But Solomon did not just state it once, he repeated himself because it was an important point for his son to understand:

Hold firmly to my teaching
and never let go.
    It will mean life for you. (v.13)


My child, listen carefully
    to everything I say.
21     Don’t forget a single word,
    but think about it all.
22 Knowing these teachings
    will mean true life
    and good health for you. (vv.20-22)

God had warned Adam and Eve that disobedience would lead to death and it did. Solomon described the difference between the obedient and the rebellious as this:

The lifestyle of good people
    is like sunlight at dawn
    that keeps getting brighter
    until broad daylight.
19 The lifestyle of the wicked
    is like total darkness,
    and they will never know
    what makes them stumble. (vv.18-19)

Is there a better description of those who are lost in their rebellion: They will never know what makes them stumble"? And that is why we refer to them as lost, because they are lost in their rebellious way. They aren't even aware of what is wrong any more.

Obedience is not a suggestion in our relationship with God, it is a must. It should be the great, overwhelming desire we have; to obey our Father. Not out of a sense of duty and fear but from a great well of love, in response to his overwhelming love. If we are still pursuing what we want because we want it no matter the cost, then we do not know the love of Jesus. If we honestly knew the love of Jesus we could not stay the same and we would be changed with a desire to obey him in love.

So many people misunderstand Jesus when he stated:

If you love me, you will do what I have said, and my Father will love you. I will also love you and show you what I am like. (John 12:21)

People only pick up on "you will do what I have said" and miss the great blanket of love that the statement is wrapped in. Jesus was simply stating the nature of love and obedience and the relationship between the two. You cannot love someone and be in rebellion against them.

There is no getting around obedience. If you love Jesus then your desire is to obey. If you do not love Jesus then your desire will be for yourself. Those are the facts. It comes down to those words, "If you love me you will do what I say".

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