The Better Way of Obedience

The Better Way of Obedience
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Each year, Meriam-Webster selects a “Word of the Year.” The word they select is meant to capture the prevailing winds of our culture over the past year. The word for 2023, for example, was “Authentic.” I may be wrong, but I suspect “obedience” will not be the Word of the Year in 2024, or anytime soon after.

To obey implies a willful submission to someone else’s commands, which means acknowledging their authority. In our culture, obedience is usually considered ignorant and a roadblock on the path to self-fulfillment. Why would we listen to someone else when we have so much information at our fingertips? Why would we submit to another person, organization, or idea when they could cause us hurt or pain?

The gods of this age promise joy and fulfillment when we pursue our own truth and forge our own path. How then could it ever be good or virtuous to obey the voice of another?

While we may bristle at the suggestion of obedience, the Bible does not share our distaste.  As believers, we are commanded to obey God and to obey those who have authority over us. (And we are called to do it joyfully!) Here are some brief examples:

The Bible calls us to obey God

Exodus 19:5-6

“’Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

The Bible calls us to obey our leaders in government

Matthew 22:20-21

And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Romans 13:1

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

The Bible calls us to obey the leaders of our church

Hebrews 13:17

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

The Bible calls children to obey their parents

Proverbs 6:20-22

My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you.

Colossians 3:20

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

Obedience can feel hard, and, at times, it may actually be hard. To willfully obey means to give up your own will for someone else’s. This requires discipline, trust, and ultimately, faith. Yet the goodness of God is revealed in his commands to obey. As difficult as obedience may be, we must trust Jesus when he says “my yolk is easy, my burden is light.” The book of 1 John tells us that “…his commandments are not burdensome”. God calls us to obey with the weight of the glory to be revealed.

All children of God need to start here. Parents are included: before we ask our children to obey, we must seek to obey God.

If you are a parent wanting to foster obedience in your home, Jesus has laid out the path before us. First, we must love and obey our Father, as Jesus did. We must tell of his wonderous works, as Jesus did. We must sacrifice our time, energy, and hearts in pursuing our children, as Jesus did. Finally, we must remind our children of the true, good, and beautiful reality that what God has in store for us when we obey is treasure in heaven: life with God forever. In Jesus, this is our inheritance: one that he obtained for us by his obedience:

Romans 5:19

For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

Perhaps you are seeking to grow in your obedience to the Lord or are wanting to build habits of godly obedience in your household. If so, we would invite you to attend the upcoming Parenting Forum with Adam Griffin on Wednesday, April 10th from 6-7:30pm. Adam is a faithful leader who has spent many hours prayerfully considering what faithful obedience looks like in the household of God. We hope that it will be a time of learning and encouragement as you seek to follow God in your home.

In Christ,

Robert West (Pastor Bob)