Obedience - Daily Living of God's Word

(Most of this content is taken from a short sermon series that I preached for SHEC's youth group, the Uprising Generation. You can find the full video sermon here.)

Obedience Defined
Most of us probably have a certain idea when we here the word 'obedience'. We get a negative feeling in our heads and it reminds us of a dog being forced into obedience of it's master or children being forced into obedience of a parent or authority figure. When really, God's call for us to be obedient is a much more joy filled act that enriches our daily lives rather than diminishing them.

The Bible dictionary defines obedience as “the art or practice of obeying with respect, in agreement and submissive compliance”.  Often, people may feel that obedience has a negative meaning - that being obedient means you have to give up your independence or rights to freely do what you want to do. To some extent that might be true depending on the circumstances, but in it’s purest form, being obedient is the truest form of respect. When children are obedient to their parents, they are showing that they respect and honor their parents and trust what is being asked of them needs to be done.

More so even with God, when we obey God, it’s because we trust and respect him and because the things he asks us to do really and truly are what’s best for us.  Look at 1 Samuel 15:22: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.”

So God clearly gives great concern to what we do and why. More than any other thing that he asks of us, he wants us to follow him.  Which should naturally be our attitude anyways when we have faith.  In John 14:15, Jesus says "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." Now notice here that he doesn't say "You should keep my commandments" or "It would be better if you did keep my commandments", but he says "You will keep my commandments".  If we truly love Jesus, the overflow of our hearts will be obedience and trust in him that his will is the best for our life.

And that is really the point of it all, God's will is the best possible plan for our life. Obedience to God serves two purposes: to glorify him and to improve our lives on Earth. How awesome is that? Our obedience to a greater being than us actually is for our benefit as well as his. This is not some earthly dictator who has slaves and minions solely to do what he wants so that his life will be easier, but this is a benevolent father who is looking out for what's best for his children.

So when you look at the situation from a bird’s eye view, obedience to God is not a negative thing at all. You know why? Because he actually knows what is best for you. He can see the outcome of all of your decisions, and will prevent you making the stupid ones and help you to make the good ones. God is on your side and has plans for you to prosper and not to harm you. 

So when it seems like living the Christian life is going to mean giving up something that you think you enjoy. Take a look again, I guarantee you that that enjoyment is either fleeting or downright false. Because true happiness comes from a Christ-filled life. It comes from the Creator God, and not from some created thing.  God alone is the best judge for what is good for your life. You are not a good judge, you are a biased judge because you only think for yourself and you’ve got tunnel vision, where you can only see what’s right in front of you. God can see everything.

I'm going to take a look at some very practical ways in which we can practice obedience in our daily lives in two separate posts. But as a preface to those, we need to look at what God actually asks us of for obedience. With just a cursory reading of the Bible, it can be a bit daunting. Especially when you read books like Leviticus, which seems like just a crazy long list of rules for how to live. The ancient Jewish officials got so crazy obsessed with rules and became so intent on not breaking the rules that they invented new rules to put on top of God’s rules in the hopes that God would like them better.  Then, because they were thought to be “holier” than everyone else, they enforced these stupid rules on all of the people. This is not what God's obedience looks like.

The law was given to Israel in the Old Testament as an example to them that total perfection and sinlessness was impossible for humans. Only Jesus could accomplish that when he came to Earth as the fulfillment of the Old Testament law. While he was on Earth, he was approached by one of those Pharisees and was asked basically "Which rule is the best?". We see this in Matthew 22:36-38, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."”

So right there Jesus did away with all the fear and self-righteousness that came with these crazy long lists of rules and boiled it down to what really matters, your heart. This section breaks it down to two simple categories. Individual Obedience, which is about your personal relationship and obedience to God. And Corporate Obedience, which is about how we relate to those around us (our neighbors).

So as you begin to approach obedience in your life, this verse and principle can be a baseline. Are my actions increasing my love or relationship with Jesus? Are my actions showing love or building relationship with those around me? If you'd like some practical applications of this, you can check out my posts here.


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