If you love me, obey my commandments. -Jesus
We are disobedient people—a lot like Ancient Israel actually. Their theological history forms the basis for ours, but unfortunately, their disobedience does as well. From the Beginning, Humankind was bent on disobeying God. The Creator tells Adam and Eve not to eat from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and they do it anyway. God tells Moses to speak to the rock, and Moses strikes it; God warns David not to take a census, and voilà, now he has to choose a catastrophe for his country. Unfortunately, this pattern of disobedience threads its way through the rest of the Bible, into Acts, and into our lives as well.
This topic fascinates me because the word “obey” often elicits that latent part in us that instantly rebels. As such, this tiny four-letter-word is used so infrequently in our culture, outside of children and pets, because we have such an aversion to it. But why has it become almost unmentionable in sermons, and even a swear word? I think it’s simple: We hate being told what to do.
From a Christian point of view, it all boils down to an idol of autonomy. As children, we looked for independence and disobeyed our parents. When we entered the professional world, our bosses became hard to obey. Finally, when the late-comers, like myself, became Apprentices of Christ, the Teacher became difficult to obey.
Now, as we understand more of God and His amazing plan for our lives, why is it still hard to obey Him? Dallas Willard asks, “How can we trust God for our eternal salvation but not for the next sandwich?” Do we trust Him enough to obey Him in our daily lives as well?
The answers as to why we disobey are several fold, and they begin with our sinful nature. But I think the main reason is because a lot of us are “secret atheists”, in the words of Graham Cooke. Think about it, do we actually believe that God has the best in mind for our lives if we obey Him? Can we really trust Him? Does He really love enough that we don’t have to manipulate, manage, and coerce people and circumstances to get our own way?
Like a self-willed toddler, we love to find out for ourselves what lies on the other side of God’s Will, as our sinful wonder tests to see if the the proverbial stove is, in fact, hot. So our sinful nature certainly likes testing things: stoves, boundaries, even God—to see if the consequences are true. Some of you are smarter, and actually learn from God and others that stove-touching is harmful, while people like me, have burn scars and many long withstanding band-aids instead.
The more good news is that freedom awaits us on the other of the door of obedience. What are we free of, you ask? We are free to let our circumstantial cards fall where they may. We are free to be joyful because it no longer depends on us. We are free, because after we obey God, whatever else happens, its now not up to us.
Someone once said that when we obey God we should do it immediately, with joy, and completely. I agree, and try to remember that as Christians, we get to, we never have to.
Want to know a spiritual secret? The truth you might have been waiting for to propel you into a deeper relationship with God? Then come close…come really really close so God can whisper it in your ear: The fastest way to growing closer to Him is by obeying Him in everything, even in the small things.