Being a Child of God: Obedience
Obedience is a touchy subject in our world today and sometimes even within God's family. It's either something to reject completely, or it is nothing more than adhering to a list of ordinances that we either pass or fail. Is this really the truth for the child of God?
There is much to study on this subject, but let's consider what Jesus says in Matthew 18. In Matthew 18:2-4, the disciples came to Jesus and were asking him who was the greatest in the kingdom. His answer is very interesting, given He knew what was in their hearts (Luke 9:46). He brings over a little child and tells them that unless they become like this little child, they will never enter the kingdom of heaven. I've heard many good lessons on these verses, but what was Jesus saying and what does this have to do with obedience?
I love my children more than anything. As a parent, I spend the majority of my time looking after their physical and spiritual needs. Why? I am their father and I love them. I want what is good for them. When it comes to obedience, they don't always get that right, but for the most part, they'll follow my directions when it comes to doing what is good for them. They may question what I think is good for them, but they trust and obey. Why? The only thing I can point to is the fact that my children love me as I love them. There is a bond of love.
Children look to us to provide for them and take care of their needs. Our Father in heaven is no different. He loves us as His children. He has provided all the things we need that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). He cares for us even more than the flowers of the fields and the birds in the air (Matthew 6:25-34). We are precious to Him and He loves us so.
Obedience is not a negative concept as the world would teach us. In its purest form, it's an expression of love. This is how John can say in 1 John 5:3 that God's commands are not burdensome, because he says love for God is keeping His commandments. Obedience from the child of God is the expression of love back to him, because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
Jesus, however, says one more thing to his disciples in Matthew 18 that we can't miss. In verse 4, our Lord says, "Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Who is the greatest? I believe He is saying that an obedient mind is a serving mind, and that starts with humility. Remember, the disciples were caught up in an argument over who was the greatest in the kingdom. Do you think this little child was worried about that? Children love unconditionally. The world teaches us to think more of ourselves than we should. The world divides by encouraging self promotion. The world teaches us the only way to be happy is to love ourselves more than anything else. We certainly should love who we are as God created us, but no where has this worldly teaching left any room for humility. No where has it made room for a true love for others, especially for God.
Obedience is a beautiful outpouring of the humble heart, driven by love. If we really do love our Father because He first loved us (1 John 4:19), we are happy to do what He wants us to do. We're happy because we know, just like with our children, that He wants what is good for us. Praise Him that He loves us so! Doing what pleases Him is a small effort compared to what He has done for us.