I was reminded about this on Mother’s Day and will think of it again on Father’s Day. It’s a familiar subject coming from me and worth repeating. Obedience! The perspective from which I’ve always engaged this subject of obedience to God is that of ‘want to’ vs. ‘have to.’ From a parental point of view, you’d love to have your children obey you out of the relationship you’ve developed over the years, where they value your advice and do what you tell them to do out of respect and love rather than simple discipline and consequence. If a wholesome relationship does indeed exist, then the child will want to comply out of the recognition of the parent’s love. Mom or Dad is telling me this because they’ve got my back.
If all one does is obey the rules because of the consequences of the punishment associated with disobeying the rules then, the rules are generally thrown out the window when the rule maker is no longer around. I guess what I’m really trying to say is, when grounded in love, people respond favorably according to the wishes and will of the person who is the object of that love. By our very nature, we want to look good in the eyes of the people we’re trying to impress. Jesus says, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.” John 14:23. Examine this use of the term obey. What Christ is saying is the same thing that many a mother and father want to believe about their kids. We all know the things that would upset Mom and Dad. We know this because they spent a lifetime (yours) instilling their values and integrity into your character. You might still do things they wouldn’t condone, but you certainly know the difference between the right and wrong of it because of your upbringing. That upbringing, if nurtured in the spirit of love, reveals to all of us the source and nature of the consequences and the resulting discipline. It’s still all about love. Y’all know that ‘this is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you’ thing.
Christ is merely reminding us that if you love Him, then obeying His rules, His teachings, which were given to us out of love of the Father, should come from the heart out of our Christian experience. Our desire to please should override our mere compliance to the rules. The point is obedience to God has so much more to do with wanting to do the right thing for the right reason, than doing the right thing because it is law. One is the result of relationship and the other is the result of fear of consequence. Throughout scripture, Jesus constantly refers to the love of the Father. How many of you do what your mother would expect of you and your mother has been dead for years? How many of you try to pass those same expectations along to your kids? Why? I submit that you do this because of the relationship you have or had with your mother. That’s why I am convinced the key to understanding obedience to God is establishing or reestablishing a relationship with the Almighty. This is achieved by studying His Word, getting inside His commandments and emulating as best you can the life of Christ, who carried out the wishes of His Father to the letter. “I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the father and I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” John 14:30-31.
To obey should be an act of love. Our goal should be to understand God’s love for us and simply do our best to return it. Act accordingly, so to speak.
May God bless and keep you always…