Do a Google search for images using the word “Obedience” and you’ll be greeted by an assortment of images falling into one of two categories… religion or dogs. Go on. Try it. I’ll wait a moment for you to click back to this page.
Why are the top images for the word obedience related to God and doG? Is there a correlation due to the spelling, as I’ve highlighted by my use of the capital “G”? Is there something else at play here?
When we give a dog a command, do we have its best interest in mind? (Other than the quick answer of, “Ha! Not when I tell him to get me a beer!”) Let’s look at some of the commands we may give a dog. (And in full disclosure here, I do not have, nor have ever had, a dog.)
When we yell, “STOP!” at our dog that’s about to run out into the street, aren’t we looking out for his best interest? Can you think of other commands that are for his good? What about when we talk him for a walk? Is that in his best interest or ours? Granted we also benefit from the exercise, not to mention the lack of poop on the floor.
What about when God gives us a command? Is he looking out for our best interest, or just wanting us to do cheap parlor tricks?
God gives us commands because it’s in our best interests as well. But due to our lack of obedience we tend to mess up things in our lives, as well as the lives of others.
What follows is a highlight from my experiences over the past week as I seek to come more fully into obedience with the path he is leading me on my walk of faith with him.
Last week one of my assignments posed the following question:
What are the most significant insights into the nature of the life of faith that church needs to hear? Why?
I present to you my answer that I would go on to develop into a 30-minute sermon on the example of obedience that Jesus provides to us with his triumphant entry into Jerusalem given yesterday as my first Palm Sunday Service.
“The single most significant insight into the nature of the life of faith can be précised with just a single word…
If forced to give more than one word, it would be…
“Absolute unfailing obedience to our Lord.”
Every downfall of man, every… single… one… can be traced back to our failing to follow the commands of our God. Adam and Eve broke the one rule they had to follow! The people of Israel… golden calf… one rule again.
Jump forward to our times and us “moderns” living under the New Covenant.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34 NRSV)
Cheat on your spouse? Broke the one rule. Murder your brother? Broke the one rule. Get drunk and wrap your car around a telephone pole? Broke the one rule. Become arrogant and bring destruction down upon your head? Broke the one rule. Sit on your hands afraid to step out in faith and accept your calling into full-time ministry for six years? Broke. The. One. Rule. (Only one of those was me by the way!)
We must as Christians be obedient to our Lord and Savior. Why? We’ve already established that we cannot earn our salvation, that it is an utterly free gift received by grace through faith, then why must we be obedient?
God has shown in his glory since before he brought order to the chaos that he has our complete and total best interests at the very core of his being. When we are not obedient we are doing something that is going to result in harm to us. In return, he only desires for us to be faithful and trust in him through our worship. And worship in its true obedient form is love. Holy. Complete. Love.
Deitrich Bonhoeffer said this about obedience and faith…
“For faith is only real when there is obedience, never without it, and faith only becomes faith in the act of obedience.”
Obedience is following a command when everything in us wants to do the opposite. Obedience is wanting to run out into that street to chase the spinning tires of the speeding car.
May we all seek greater clarity and discernment of that voice in our ear telling us not to poop on the floor.
“Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith.” – (Romans 16:25-26 NIV)