Obedience has not really been my thing. I certainly obeyed my parents. I was not a rebellious child or teenager, by any means. But, when it came to obeying God, I always found a way to convince myself that maybe God did not mean “complete obedience”. Or maybe He didn’t really mean that I needed to obey “all of the time”. I mean, what if obeying Him meant that I had to give up certain friendships or what if obeying Him meant that I had to give up certain activities? Certainly, God wants me to have fun, right? Certainly, God wants me to be happy, right?
Obedience is not memorizing scripture and attending church every Sunday. Although both of these things are important, obedience is a result of a personal relationship with the One Who put His crown aside and gave up His life for us. You see, I had it all wrong. God wants me to be the most fulfilled and holy that I can be. Therefore, He requires that I obey Him….for my good.
I was confused as to what exactly this “obedience” thing meant. What I did not understand is that in not obeying my Jesus, I was actually living under a yoke of slavery. We are human and because we were created by God and in His image, we will serve something. I was serving myself and all of the little idols that I thought made me so happy. But, the coolest thing happened. When I began to serve Who created me and obey Him and Him alone, I found what my heart had been seeking and yearning for….complete and utter joy in the name of Jesus Christ. We were made to serve and obey God. Nothing else will do. Everything else that we put in the place of God causes us to feel anxious, angry and chaotic. Only the yoke of Jesus Christ leads to freedom and peace. Trust me. I’ve tried it my way. Give me Jesus all day long. True rest for our soul starts and ends with Jesus. Matthew 11:28-30 sums it up perfectly. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
The Greek root for the word “obedience” is akouw, which means “to hear or to listen to”. This was my problem. I was listening to what I wanted to instead of the voice of the Lord. I was only hearing what I wanted to hear instead of hearing what God was calling me to, even if it was uncomfortable. Obedience starts with listening to God and His will for us.
Obedience allows us to see with a spiritual eternal lens. We cannot see what God has prepared us for or has called us to if we are only willing to use our earthly lenses. Our earthly lenses are blurry and full of self-interest. But, when we obey, we put on the lens of God and our “duty becomes delight” as my pastor says.
You see, I wasn’t buying this obedience thing until I fell in love with God’s Word. It’s impossible to fall in love with God’s Word and not fall in love with Jesus because they are One in the same. Jesus is the Word Who became flesh.
I fell in love with God’s Word and therefore, I fell in love with Jesus, and all of the sudden everything about me wanted to obey God. I wanted to please Him because I love Him. I wanted to be near to Him every second of every day because obeying Him gave me a peace like I had never felt before. Obeying God filled me up and satisfied every fiber of my being.
When we read the Old Testament, we cannot help but see the theme of obedience. Why did God keep insisting that His people obey? Isn’t He God? He doesn’t need us, so why would He be so hard on these people just because they didn’t obey Him? It all goes back to love. God loves His people so much that He wants the best for them. He knows that He is the only One or thing that can fully satisfy our wandering hearts. How does He know this? Because He created us. One by one. He crafted our hearts and He knows exactly what fills us up. He loves us so much that He put a yearning for Himself in each one of us. We all have an instilled homing device that yearns deeply and instinctually for the One Who built us. So, why does He insist on obedience? Not because He is a hard, cold, God. The exact opposite is the truth….He insists on obedience because He knows that when we obey Him, we are in the safest place for us to be, which is His will. And, when we are in His will, we are in the most peaceful state possible. He loves us so much that He wants the very best for us and the only place to start is obedience to Him.
So, the Old Testament speaks of the obedience of God’s people, but the New Testament speaks of God’s Son Who obeyed perfectly. The apostle Paul refers to the perfect obedience of Jesus as our righteousness because we can never attain perfect obedience on our own. Only Jesus is capable of that. That’s why He came and died for us, so that when God sees us, He sees Jesus and His perfect record instead of our sin infested record.
Obedience produces seeds. And when we obey God’s calling, God’s will or God’s voice, the seeds that God plants begins to flourish into healthy strong believers who are producing fruit for His kingdom. But God knows that we can’t possibly obey all the time, even if we wanted to. That’s where His Holy Spirit takes over. If our hearts are aligned with a spirit of obedience, the Holy Spirit steps in and helps us do what we cannot do on our own. Isn’t God so cool! He does it all. It’s all about Him! He begins a work in us, He follows through and He gives us His Spirit so that we are able to be who He has called us to be!
There is nothing better. Obedience to our great God and Savior trumps all this world has to offer. Find your rest. Let His peace wash over you and find joy like you have never experienced. Obedience matters to God because it matters to our human hearts. What our hearts truly want is to tune into our implanted homing device and obey the King of our hearts who put it there!