Called to Obey

My three year old son, clad in his dinosaur pajamas, demanded his way. I gave him my best “mother” stare, and repeated, “No.” He turned and pointed back behind down the hall and said, “Then you go to my room!” That was where his time outs frequently occurred, and he responded to my refusal to obey him in the same way I typically responded to his defiance. I felt no compulsion to obey him; he had no authority over me.

Sometimes we obey out of fear, like in Nazi Germany. Sometimes we obey out of respect, like in a courtroom. But sometimes we obey because we completely understand that there are people whose experience and knowledge we need to trust. When we know and respect the people who ask for our obedience, it is easier for us to trust them and comply. When my car or my computer break down, I take them to people I trust to fix them, because I know next to nothing about cars or computers. I do not argue with their suggestions or try to give them “pointers”. I hired them because I trust them and recognize that my knowledge and experience is insufficient.

Obedience has gotten a bad connotation in our society. We like to pretend that we’re in charge of our world, and that we don’t answer to anyone. But the problem is obedience is required when we deal with things beyond our control or outside our experience and knowledge. It would be ludicrous for me to hire someone that I knew was incompetent. It would be just as ludicrous to ignore the counsel of someone I knew that was as expert.

We may willingly give obedience to those we respect, especially when we need their help. When what I believe about God allows me to follow him and know him and eventually love him, what happens when he asks something of me that I do not want to do? Does what I believe and know about God when I need his help match my response when he asks me for something that is hard or painful? If he takes too long to answer my prayer or gives me an answer I don’t like, does that give me permission to ignore his answer? Can I obey him when it’s easy and disobey when it’s not? Will I rely on what I believe and know, or will I pretend that I’m in charge?

God is God, and I am not. The longer I follow God, the more I know about God, the more I will understand that he has all authority and power. I have disobeyed him and suffered the consequences of my ill informed, immature choices. God doesn’t require our obedience so he can be in charge; he requires our obedience because his way is perfect and his laws are for our good. (Psalm 63) He loves us enough to pay attention to us and require us to do what is in our best interest. Our obedience doesn’t make him anymore powerful than he already is, but our obedience will allow us to be so much more than we can make of ourselves.

Obedience is not optional. Disobedience results in punishment and loss of blessing. Adam and Eve were banished from Eden; Lot’s wife turned to salt; Saul lost his kingdom; the rich man in Jesus’ parable went to hell; we are no different. We will obey, or we will suffer the consequences of disobedience. May our belief lead us to follow the one who has all authority, and may we follow him in obedience, trusting that what he asks of us will be for our ultimate good.