Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Why obey?

John 14:15 "If you love me, you will obey my commandments….” (God’s Word)

Yesterday I stood next to my 10 year old daughter, Meggie at our Chiropractor’s office. We were watching my 11 year old, Emma get her adjustment and I didn’t want Meggie to be in the way. “Stand against the wall right here.” I told her pointing to a place I felt was reasonably non-obstructive. She placed her back to the wall where I had pointed and I thanked her and turned my attention back to Emma. When I looked back at Meggie she was silently sliding down the wall to the other end all the while watching me to see if I had noticed. “Meggie!” I said in my polite-there-are-other-people-watching-and-you-are-being-bad-voice. It’s like a loud, harsh whisper with a good measure of my most serious face to let her know she’d better get back to the spot I’d put her. “Be obedient!” I finished. After all, I had told her exactly what she should do and she had chosen to disobey. She smiled and said she was sorry, but one look at her face told me she wasn’t…not really. She wasn’t sorry she’d disobeyed. She was sorry I’d caught her.

We climbed into the car after our adjustments and started to drive home. As I was pulling out onto the highway, I thought of a Bible verse I had never fully understood growing up. John 14:15 (Jesus speaking) “If you love me, you will obey me…”. It brought to mind all the “If you love me”s I’d heard in my life. They were usually used by people who wanted something from me that I didn’t want to give as a way to guilt it out of me. It always spoke to me of ‘prove it to me’ or the kind of thing we all remember from Elementary school ‘If you don’t_________then I won’t be your friend anymore.’. It never sat right with me that Jesus would do that to us. I always pictured Him standing there with his hand on His hip wagging a finger at His disciples saying, “If you love me, you will obey me”, and them grudgingly agreeing.

As I pondered that verse in light of Meg’s recent behavior, I realized that there are really only two reasons to obey someone. Fear is the first. Many children obey out of fear of being punished (not always a bad thing I’d just like to say), adult often obey out of fear too– fear of losing a job, spouse, getting a ticket etc. In many countries the citizens are terrified of the consequences for disobedience, some of which are death. The second reason is love. So often we obey out of love for the person who is asking us. It’s like a gift we give them out of our own free will to bless them, not to prove anything to them. That is why I wanted Meg to obey me. Because she loves me. We spoke about this on the ride home and afterwards she apologized again, only this time she was sorry because she knew it had hurt me. This time she meant it.

That is why Jesus wants us to obey Him. Because we love Him. It isn’t a threat to us “If you love me..” with a wagging finger and a stern look. It is a statement of the natural flow of things borne out of a true love of Christ. It is because of the love we have for Jesus that the obedience naturally follows. It isn’t a forced grudging obedience that is trying to earn the right to say we love Him. He isn’t telling us to ‘prove it. He isn’t saying ‘if you don’t do this I won’t be your friend anymore.’ He is asking us to choose to actively love Him in word and deed. It is a joyful offering of love given gladly by us just to make Him happy. How freeing and how lovely to be able to show our love for Jesus in this way.

“If you love Me…” I do Lord. I do. I will show you my love by my the gift of obedience. You have given me your life. Please, please, take mine in return. I offer it joyfully and unconditionally. Here I am Lord, let me show you how I love You. Amen.


Belinda said...

"He is asking us to choose to actively love Him in word and deed."

So true Faith Girl. How warped our perspective can be when we see through the lens of this world's values.

Thank you for the delight of another inspiring post!

Night Owl said...

Such a lovely post. :)
I don't think Jesus would ever not love us, or "take away" His love for us. So we don't really have to prove ourselves that way - to earn His love. We just obey because obeying someone like Jesus, who loves us, and only wants what is best for us, His children is like our nonobligatory gift to Him. Because we love Him back. That's how I think of it. :) Thank you for discussing this topic.
Love Night Owl

Angcat said...

I love the part where you said
"It is because of the the love we have for Jesus that the obedience naturally follows".
Such a simple concept if we just relax into His love. What could be more natural and right than just to obey...because what He asks of us is always just and right.
Thank you for this thoughtful post.

Joyful Fox said...

Faith Girl,

I got a chuckle out of the polite-and-you-are-being-bad-voice. I think we all have one of those.

Obedience is so simple really and yet it is so hard. It is hard for our children and hard for us at times too.

In spite of God's complete and perfect love and all that He has given us, it seems just as natural to choose to disobey, rather than obey - sometimes more so.

Our love for Jesus has to grow to the point that our obedience naturally flows. Sometimes we are stiff-necked in small issues, seemingly insignificant ones - choosing pride instead of meekness in primary relationships, choosing not to harken to that still small voice that nudges us to be gentle, patient, or kind with our children when they are willfully fighting one another.

Oh that our love would grow for Jesus to the point that obedience does just naturally flow. I am still on the journey on that one!