Love Is Obedience

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“But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:5-6

Obedience is not a popular word in 21st century America. “To each his own” is the common philosophy of our times. We bristle against anyone limiting us or placing restrictions on us. Yet, obedience has been the hallmark of God’s children since the dawn of creation. Perhaps, better said, a resistance to obedience has been the battle of God’s children. Our human nature wants to do what we want. We teach our children early on to learn obedience. Granted, the abuse of the term obedience has contributed to our reluctance and rebellion against obedience. Men and women have misused the concept of obedience for personal gain throughout history. But, they, too, are human. They are not the perfect God, who has no malicious intent behind His commands to obey. God is the Father of Lights. There are no shadows with Him. There is no darkness in Him whatsoever. Thus, He will never abuse the power of obedience. We must settle this from the start; otherwise, we fail to trust in His kindness, goodness, and will for our lives.

I, myself, have wrestled with the premise of the word “obedience” in the past. It feels like a surrender of power and control. Obedience has always suggested rules to me. Rules generally did not equal fun. Obedience sounded like a drudgery that would pose an impediment to what I wanted. Funny enough, with maturity, it is evident that my opposition to obedience was rooted in selfish wants and desires. And perhaps even some fear. Fear of what I would lose if I surrendered my will. Now we are getting to the heart of it. Throw onto that low-burning flame the mindset of popular culture and we have an inferno. Society screams to do what you want, to not conform for anyone while Jesus gently beckons to follow Him, to choose His will and His ways, and to not conform to the world but, instead, be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1-2).

In the church denomination of my early childhood, being a Christian was synonymous with boredom, a lack of joy, and appearing burdened and unhappy. I didn’t see it then, but as I grew up and became an adult with my own relationship with Jesus, I felt heavy-hearted with how much was lacking in those churches. All that mattered were the do’s and the do not’s, very much like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. They were the individuals who imposed man-made rules on the Jewish people. They added to the Law and created burdens for the people. The joy was lost. Jesus never meant for His rules to be burdensome. 1 John 5:3 tells us, “Loving God means keeping His commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.” Faith follows Jesus. Obedience follows faith. Freedom and joy follow obedience.

To have saving faith in Him, the follower of Christ says to Him, “I believe that You loved me so much that You sacrificed Your life as the payment for my sin and that You shed your blood on the cross out of Your deep, unconditional love for me.” The believer acknowledges their own personal and desperate need for a Savior. Jesus loves us so much. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). Jesus demonstrated His love for us by sacrificing His life for us. I love Jesus beyond measure because of His great love and forgiveness. How do I, in turn, then show my love for Jesus? John answers that for us quite clearly in 1 John 2:5-6. We show our love for Jesus by obeying Him and keeping His commands and by living our lives as Jesus did. We know that Jesus lived His life on earth to glorify the Father and to love others. Jesus lived a selfless and humble life. Jesus put the needs of others ahead of His own. Jesus came to fulfill the will of the Father. Jesus was obedient to the Father–to the point of death on the cross (Philippians 2:8). The perfect Son of God was obedient to His Father. How much more should we, who are imperfect, obey the commands of the Father? The commands of God are for His glory and our own good. They provide freedom and life. They offer us a way to live with joy and in peace. God’s rules protect us.

That being said, we must be on guard to never make our relationships with God about following a bunch of rules and checking things off a list. That is called legalism. Obedience to Jesus should flow from a heart that is responding to the great love of Jesus in our lives. Jesus has done a work in my own heart and life where this is concerned. I would read passages like Ephesians 5:22-23 or Colossians 3:12-17 which both outline certain behaviors that should be associated with the attitudes and actions of a follower of Jesus. I would try to embody those character qualities, which is not a bad thing. I had it backwards though. I tried to follow the rules because it was what I was supposed to do rather than out of a love for Jesus. However, by loving Jesus with my whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, these character qualities would be the result of obedience in my life. When Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, He discussed some of the Ten Commandments and the Law. The people were so fixated on following the Laws that they missed the whole purpose. They would obey the Law by not literally committing murder, but Jesus said being angry at a brother made them guilty of murder. It is what is in our heart and the motivation behind the behavior that matters. His point was, and is, that our desire to obey Him should originate from a heart that is set on loving Him. We can never earn our salvation or be good enough for Him. Obedience stems from a heart that is in love with Jesus and a desire to please Him and bring honor and glory to His Name. When we love Jesus, we will obey Him.

Where is He desiring your obedience to Him today? I encourage you to not delay your obedience any longer. Follow Him. Faith follows Jesus’ example, and joy follows obedience. To love Jesus is to obey Him. When you love Jesus, you want to obey Him.

Published by Dawn413

Jesus is the lover of my soul. Throughout my life, in both triumphs and challenges, Jesus has shown me that He is the ultimate source of satisfaction. There is no other. I love words, and He has filled my heart with a passion for Him, His Word, and writing. I am a mom of both humans and furry canines. I love running, hiking, reading, the ocean, baseball, basketball. I love spending time with my friends and family and doing any activity that can include my pups!

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