Obedience is the fruit of contentment and joy. Obedience is NOT how you earn a reward, it is not your ticket to peace, and it is not what comes first.
Contentment and joy are what produce obedience. One should not try to reverse that and put the cart before the horse. Obedience is the inevitable result of experiencing contentment and joy. If you wish to be more obedient, first seek the peace of the Lord.
It’s hard to explain, but basically what is pleasing to Him simply becomes pleasing to you and you just start walking in step with Him more and more each day.
The more time you spend with Jesus, the more contentment and peace you will find. He paves the way to obedience. Your obedience does not pave the way towards Him. That is a critical distinction and part of the reason why I am forever trying to stress the point that, “we love because He first loved us.” Jesus initiates the relationship and lights the path before us.
This weird authoritarian, control freak, parent/child notion, that tries to insist that “compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another’s authority,” is the epitome of all goodness, is a bunch of stuff and nonsense. Submission to Christ’s authority is what sets you free from that lie. Often people are forever trying to put you right back into bondage, especially religious people.
I happen to be a “religious people” and also a stereotypical “mom,” so I need to hear this message myself frequently to keep it fresh in my mind. Most of us don’t like it because it’s counter intuitive and it also calls us to relinquish control. Obedience can be a form of control, certainly from those who are exercising and demanding it, but also from those who are attempting to comply.
Internally we can start to believe we are being saved by our own obedience, our own compliance, our own righteousness, our own ability to follow the rules, our own hard work. This is another critical point, obedience can deceive us into thinking we are the ones who fully control the results. The results of what? Pretty soon, the results of everything.
Grace requires us to be totally on the receiving end of the deal, meaning not the ones in control. Obedience, even to the Lord, can be a way of attempting to assert control, attempting to usurp authority. Obedience can actually be manipulative, true not only of those who demand it, but also of those who comply.
At the root of that need for control is usually insecurity, fear, distrust, and a lack of faith. This is probably just as true of outright bullies as it is of the ridiculously compliant.
I used to have a sweet friend who knew me well. She once blurted out, “Oh, she’s always compliant and agreeable towards those she has absolutely no respect for.” Ha! Very funny. Very true, too. Compliance can also be a way of disconnecting, disengaging. You are simply not worth arguing with.
Just some things to keep in mind when you hear people pounding away on the importance of obedience as if it were the epitome of all goodness. Oh contraire, it is quite possible to be, “..like whitewashed tombs, which indeed appear beautiful outside, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones..”