The word obedience seems to have fallen out of fashion and little by little we have set aside its value in our daily lives. As a child quite a few years ago, I heard the word and saw it in action routinely.
Back then, children were taught to obey and understood the word and the consequences if they did not. At the altar, a future wife was asked to commit to “love, honor, and obey”. It was common to recognize and understand we were to obey the laws of the land whether they were speed limits or something far more significant.
It’s rare to listen in on parental admonitions and hear the word “obey” in the mix for many parents. They may expect their children will “listen”, but how does that compare to the word “obey” and its meaning?
Obedience means compliance.
Perhaps that is where the difficulty comes for most of us. It is easier to think the rule, request, order, or law does not apply to me or I may think it is unfair, foolish, unnecessary, or unjust so I make a choice to exclude myself from compliance.
As each of us makes a choice about obedience, do we not sound like our ancestors at the end of the book of Judges where everyone did what was right in their own eyes?
The semantics of it all are less important than the principles. From the beginning of time the Word shows that God values obedience in the midst of his lavish love and abundant grace. And in the very beginning, we humans could not manage to obey the one thing He asked of us and it seems to have become a bigger struggle century by century up to the present day.
We do so as believers despite more than a few examples in the Word about the risks of disobedience. We brush those thoughts away like a pesky fly buzzing around our heads.
It seems we have forgotten that at one point in Egypt, we learned that even flies could be obedient when God commanded them to swarm over the land. Time and again we saw the waters obey. The Red Sea parted. Jesus spoke to the wind when the disciples feared for their lives on a rocky sea and it became calm. Water became wine.
From the beginning, God spoke and every aspect of creation except one complied. He gave us the gift of our free will and time and again the seduction of the enemy and our “human nature” has tempted us to do the opposite.
We have the knowledge of what we are asked to comply with. What causes us to stumble?
Here are some possibilities:
- We believe we know better or have a better way
- We think we can handle the situation ourselves
- We think we have a shortcut that is better
- We have stopped seeking the Lord’s counsel
- We no longer recognize His voice
- We think that obedience will deny us some pleasure or ease
These and many others not listed point to our preference of being self-sufficient rather than God reliant.
These speak to our belief that compliance is not for our good, but only to limit what we want, desire, need, or demand.
Maybe we have also forgotten that obedience releases us from our old sin nature and our self-will that can still sneak into a believer’s life unless vigilance is maintained.
Possibly the enemy has also clouded our remembrance that obedience taps into the power and unlimited resources of the One who created us and everything around us.
The enemy would prefer we believe we have all the power we need within ourselves and do not need to rely on the Lord.
The enemy wants us to believe we are powerless and have no access to the One who has ALL the power.
When we are tempted to fall prey to his devices and schemes, the choice is nearly always disobedience.
He asks us to obey because He loves us.
He desires to reside in us, which taps into the power to overcome the obstacles over which we stumble on our way to obedience.
John 14:23 (ESV)
“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him an make our home with him.”