This is a timeless question that maybe every human has asked, at some point in their life. And I suspect that Job, in the Bible, asked this question or some version of it, during the massively difficult season in his life. So do we obey God because there will be good outcomes? Do we obey God to avoid negative experiences? Do we obey God because life will go more smoothly? Do we obey God because it makes us feel good?
Why obey God?
During my life, I have obeyed God for the reasons I just listed and more. Sometimes, my obedience has facilitated good outcomes. And sometimes, I’ve obeyed God and stuff hasn’t turned out like I wanted. So I’m coming to the conclusion that I choose to obey God because I love God and more importantly, I’m loved by God. When I keep genuine love as a core motivation, my soul stays more tender and healthy 🙂
A lot of times, we think of being obedient to God on the pre-condition of guaranteed outcomes. We link our obedience to required outcomes we want from God. And unfortunately, too many times we withhold or change our obedience when we don’t see the outcomes we want. But conditional obedience leaves us immature, shallow & unfruitful. For example, if Paul had obeyed Jesus proportionate to his safety, comfort & health, then likely the early church would have severely faltered & been significantly less effective.
Let’s base our obedience to God on His unchanging, faithful & loving character. Faith in God facilitates internal security for external obedience 🙂
I like easy in all things: recipes, travel, exercise, conversations, studying, etc. In contrast, stuff that’s hard isn’t as appealing to me. So when Elisha told Naaman, the leper, to dip in the Jordan river to be cleansed from his leprosy, it was an easy solution to a long term painful disease. But Naaman was upset that Elisha didn’t do something different, maybe more difficult, complicated or rigorous. Ultimately, Naaman obeyed Elisha’s directive & was healed from leprosy.
Obeying God is often a matter of doing one easy step, realizing that coaching the mental game can be more challenging than the actual obedience.
When the dust settles, take the easy step of simple obedience to God, regardless of the mental games & gyrations.
This morning I read about Noah leaving he ark after the flood & it struck me today that Noah didn’t leave the ark until God told him to. This was interesting to me because there were lots of indicators that it was safe to leave the ark. It had been stationary for quite awhile, a dove brought back an olive branch & when Noah released a dove after the olive branch, the dove didn’t return. Noah went into the ark with God’s direction & he didn’t leave the ark until God gave some clear direction.
Let’s be mindful that we don’t allow external circumstances to be the final deciding factor with our decisions.
Be sure to check out this link for my new book: In Step book
I’m not a planner. Indeed, spontaneity is fun for me & I enjoy being agile for various adventures, mostly. But I’ve come to appreciate that planning can often make things better & so I’ve learned to value the process.
With that said, I’m learning that God is both the Perfect Planner & Playful Partner. I can see the strategic hand of God when I look back at various seasons & experiences. But let’s also be willing to follow God moment by moment in nimble obedience & undisputed trust!
I’ve been reading about how King David in the Bible wanted to bring the Ark of the Covenant (God’s presence) up to Jerusalem. His first attempt to move the Ark was disastrous – a guy was killed. In David’s second attempt, he made sure that everyone followed God’s directions on how to transport the Ark.
My take away from this story is that we must always treat God with respect & reverence, never thinking that we can do things our way & ignore God’s directives, presence or preferences. We can revel in God’s presence but not at the expense of reverence 🙂
I had an interesting conversation w a friend the other day about what it means to love Jesus – we express our love for Jesus by doing what He tells us to do (obedience). My friend was really intense about the idea of DOING what Jesus says, heavy emphasis on activity.
I walked away from our conversation w a bit of unease & I’ve been thinking about this over the last week or so & I’ve come to the conclusion that obeying Jesus has 2 parts: activity & attitude. If I do the right things but have the wrong attitude & heart, my actions will seem disingenuous & even dishonoring. If my attitude is squeaky clean but my actions are inconsistent, I appear to be a hypocrite. Obedience includes actions & attitudes and my sense is that we desperately need the Holy Spirit working in our daily living to Help us with our actions & attitudes 😀