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Obedience

Weekly Devotionals

Obedience

I still remember a refrain from a contemporary Christian song my parents played when I was younger: “Love is not a feeling, it’s an act of your will.” Even in elementary school that struck me. Somehow I understood that it meant that as Christians, God calls us to a different kind of love: not just following our emotions, but sticking to our commitment to Him and His ways and timing. Not just doing what feels good, but making intentional choices to follow what He’s said is right.

By another name, that’s obedience. We often ignore the value of obedience to God. We look at it through the lens of our fallen world, where obedience is for the weak and stupid, while the strong use power and position for selfish gain, furthering injustice and oppression. We can hardly understand how excellent obedience can be when we are commanded by an all-good, all-wise, fully just and loving Sovereign who is working to bring about the full restoration of us all.

A flower blooming is simply obedience, as is a rainstorm. Animals migrate in obedience. The planets in their orbits? Obedience. Even my body obeys: my lungs fill and empty with oxygen, obeying what God has put them in place to do. From the obedience of many things we have the beauty of life.

Without obedience we wouldn’t have the wonder of the Christmas story either.  In obedience Jesus “became flesh, and made His dwelling among us.” (John 1:14) When the angel told unmarried Mary she’d be pregnant, though it came with societal risks, she responded “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38) Joseph was going to quietly divorce his fiancé, thinking she was pregnant with another’s child, but an angel in a dream told him otherwise, so “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him.“ (Matthew 1:24) And of course Jesus wouldn’t have been born in Bethlehem in fulfillment of prophecy if Mary and Joseph had not obediently, yet very inconveniently, traveled there for the census the government ordered at the time.

Add to this the shepherds, the Magi, and numerous other instances in this story alone that stemmed from a person just saying “yes” to God’s will from where they were, and following through despite difficulty. And the cumulative effect of all these small acts of willful love toward God is the history-changing introduction to humankind of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Most often I respond to an ask from God with a question or a protest – if not right away then definitely once the going gets tough. If the Bible writers left out those unflattering moments of Mary and Joseph, at least we have David in his Psalms and Jesus’ grueling prayer session in Gethsemane to let us know other righteous people have found obedience impossible without even more of God’s help. Jesus Himself understands. There is tremendous value in knowing we serve a God who doesn’t ask us to do anything He didn’t do first. He humbly says “follow me” and as His Christmas story shows us, if we do, no matter how small our role, we will be part of the glorious and beautiful story of the redemption of all mankind and all creation. I don’t want to be left out of that. To love Him is to obey Him, and to obey Him is to love Him, and it’s all an invitation into His grace, even the hardship along the way.

O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.