God is the ultimate father, and as a parent I see the parent part of God’s character strongly in the issues I come across with my children. The idea of obedient children is convenient, but in the long run I do not want my children to merely always “do as they are told”. I strive for independence for myself, and I want that for my children. Their ability to make their own choices and stand on their own two feet is an intentional part of my parenting goals. I want to give them the tools for problem solving and coping with whatever comes their way. I often wonder if this is what God wants for us as our Heavenly father. The wise suggestions given in the Bible are meant as tools for us to use to thrive, not to be subjugated and burdened with.
Obedience is not my favorite word, I might even consider it a scary word. It seems the concept of obedience is used in the course of manipulation and abuse. I feel wary of the idea of obedience because I do not see myself as a puppet and I do not want to be tied to another person’s whims. I struggle not only when I am asked to be obedient, but I am hesitant to expect it of others. However, when I put aside my hesitation, I do find a deeper understanding of what obedience can look like.
Obedience is an act of strength and wisdom
Jesus did not (and does not) give small tasks to follow. He gives larger precepts of wisdom- such as love other people, pray, be generous, do not be afraid. How these concepts are implemented takes a great deal of ingenuity, creativity, bravery. They are simple enough to be accomplished by a small child, but they are not necessarily easy. To live out these traits in our lives would take a great deal of strength and wisdom.
Obedience is trust in action
Considering and choosing to follow someone else’s suggestions require a great deal of trust. We often ask to see either education or previous success to determine validity.
Although I can list countless ways in which God has proven his trustworthiness and faithfulness to us, it is ultimately a highly individual choice. And it is one worth taking the time to consider carefully. I am tempted to starting arguing for all the reasons why you should trust God and follow him, but faith is not something that can be argued or reasoned. But if you do think God is worth trusting, putting that trust into action is the next step.
Obedience is not passive
Obedience is something each person does or does not do. There are no loop holes or passes. Others can help encourage and teach (the reason why surrounding yourself with fruitful people can be beneficial), but in the end it is 100% up to each individual to put into action. How you think, talk and act is up to you, and it will show.
Because obedience is fruit producing
Obedience is not the only way to grow spiritual fruit, but is a main way. Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Faithfulness, and Self-control. These are ALL of things I want in my life, and in abundance. But these fruit do not just happen. I do not do Joy, or peace. I grow them and nurture them. I do this through many ways, one of them is through obedience to God’s wisdom.
I am not big on preaching morality. I see no value in being a good person, but no closer to God. And I am not big on the guilt trip. Feeling shame does not bring anyone closer to God either. Feeling shamefaced or morally superior is not what God would have from any of us. In 2 John it says "if you love me then obey my commandments". It did not say if you want to appease me obey my commandments. God finds joy in us growing these fruit in our lives. I want to go back to visit the parent identification I mentioned earlier. One of the things that makes me happiest is when I see my kids reap positive benefits from their efforts.
I believe this is the same way God feels about us, I think he is over the moon when he sees fruitful lives from our efforts to implement his suggestions.
Lastly, obedience is freeing
Ultimately God is faithful. God is the one who will be there at the end of the day, rooting for us no matter what.
I am not pulling punches about who is responsible about the fruit or lack there of in anyone's life. But I also suggest that is freeing to know that God’s love is not tied to our obedience. Obeying, not obeying, making mistakes through the process- no matter what- God’s love for us does not change. God’s love is not inhibited by our limitations and imperfections, the condition of fruit in our lives may be within our control, but God's love and grace for us is beyond anything we can do, say, or fail at. When I think of obedience in these terms it becomes an act of love rather than something scary.
Meet the Pasotr
Pastor Heather and her family have been a part of the Cold Lake Community since December 2006 and she has been the pastor at Community Baptist Church since September 2017.