Obedience is a fun word. How many of us would describe ourselves as obedient?
Imagine participating in one of those ice breakers we do at work, school, or a connect group:
“Alright everyone! We’re gonna go around and say our name and 3 words that describe ourselves!”
“Hi, I’m Justin. I like sports, I play the guitar, and I’m obedient.”
Kinda awkward. Lotsa awkward.
Obedience isn’t always fun. A lot of times, it’s hard. Or we get tired of it. Or it’s boring.
Take fasting. I like me some food. Like whoa. If I don’t eat every 2-3 hours, I feel like I might die. Literally. Meanwhile, my husband forgets to eat. I secretly think he’s a robot.
When I feel like God is asking me to fast, it is really hard for me. I find myself cheating sometimes.
But... This is what God says about obedience: “If you love me, you’ll obey my commands.”
And this command to obey is really an invitation into a love relationship (heart explosion!). He’s not asking us to do something where we just grit our teeth and muscle through. Imagine gritting our teeth at the fact that we get to hang out with our best friend all day. It's meant to make us come alive.
God can enable us to obey for the long haul. Here’s how:
So, there’s this fantastic teaching by Mike Bickle called, “Encountering the Father Heart of God: A Vision to Go Deep in God.” If you have 45 minutes or so, listen to it - it will change your life.
In it, he shares about 3 types of obedience:
- Obedience out of Fear of Consequences. This is Biblical. Remember when the children of Israel were commanded to kill a sheep and spread it’s blood on the doorpost of their house so the Angel of Death would pass over them? I would say most of them obeyed because who wouldn’t be afraid of the Angel of Death? This is also the only reason I don’t eat ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. Or maybe why many of us don’t drive too far over the speed limit on the freeway. Real life.
- Obedience out of Duty. This is also Biblical. I think of Peter for some reason with this type of obedience. He’s been out fishing all night and turned up with nothing. Jesus tells him to cast his net out again. I can almost picture him rolling his eyes. But He tries it out of duty and respect. Lo and behold, his nets are full of fish! We obey because it is the right thing to do. It’s responsible and good. This could be our motive for stuff like paying our taxes, or even just obeying God when it doesn’t really make sense to us. For some of us, it’s why we do our laundry.
- Obedience out of Love. This is also Biblical. Christ’s love for the Father and for us carried Him to the cross, to the grave, and to the resurrection! Have you ever been in love before? It’s exhilarating. In fact, most likely, you would do ANYTHING for the person you love. They want a burrito? You will drive to Taco Bell. They need help with a project? You will drop everything to make it happen! Even if it’s detrimental to you or your plans, you will sacrifice for the other person.
Mike Bickle makes a really good point here. He says, “A lover will always out work a worker.” This is a powerful statement. If we obey merely out of fear of consequences or responsible duty, we will burn out eventually. We will get to the point of, “Naw, I’m good.” Our obedience will last for awhile, but aren't we in this for more than awhile?
@@"A lover will always out work a worker." - Mike Bickle@@
If we can somehow change the motive and the foundation for why we obey, why we volunteer, why we even do our laundry, and make it out of love for the Father… it becomes personal. It becomes something we can (get to!) do for the long haul. When we focus on our love relationship with God, obedience becomes a joy. It becomes our pleasure!
Fall in love for the long haul. This is your FOREVER relationship. Feed it. Tend it. Prioritize it. You will never regret the time, the love, the energy given to your relationship with the Lord.
Obedience is good. Why do you obey? Are you aware of consequences? Are you responsible and dutiful? Are you lovesick? These are all good. The greatest of these is love.