Obedience - The Motivation for Jesus

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, March 21, 2013 3 comments

While all believers are called to a life of service from the moment that they confess that Jesus is Lord and commit to following him, that service takes on many different forms. The Apostle Paul calls the church “one body with many parts” and goes on to say that those parts include “apostles, prophets, teachers, workers of miracles, those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:12,28). On any given Sunday morning in a church today, you might find those who intercede for others in prayer, those who teach, people with the gift of music, greeters, technological specialists, and children’s ministry workers. We are all gifted differently and are called to different tasks. However, the primary focus for all must be obedience, just as it was for the One whom we follow.

A good friend of mine whom I met when I came to seminary opened my eyes to a reality I had never thought about before. He believed that Jesus did not willingly suffer the pain and humiliation of the cross in order to bring salvation to those who would believe and follow him. When I asked my friend what he meant, he added, “Well, at least that wasn’t his primary motivation”. He explained, that he believed, Jesus’ focus, first and foremost, was obedience toward his Father. I think he might be right. I think Jesus’ words when he was alone in Gethsemane shortly before his death suggest this. “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). Jesus knew what the Father had called him to do, but still prayed anxiously that He might excuse him from the task. Yet ultimately, his desire to obey the Father and do His will superseded his desire to be in control of his circumstances so that he wouldn’t have to suffer the unfathomable pain.

In Luke 2:41-52, Jesus is described as being twelve years old. His parents had taken him to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. When they left, a real life “Home Alone” situation ensued. They had traveled a full day before realizing that Jesus was not with them in their company. They went back to Jerusalem and searched for him for 3 days before finally finding him in the temple courts among the teachers. Essentially, Jesus’ parents then scolded him for causing them such mental anguish, which is probably how any of you with children would have reacted if the same thing happened in your life. Jesus tried to explain that he needed to be in “his Father’s house”, but his biological parents didn’t get it. The fascinating part for me is that, rather than scolding them back for admonishing the only perfect human being that ever lived, Jesus simply “went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them” (v. 51). Wow! We all know how hard it was to obey our parents when we “thought” we were right and had things all figured out. Imagine how much harder it would be if you really were perfect! But, the experience of submitting to his earthly parents who were fallen helped Jesus learn how to obey his heavenly Father when the salvation of the whole world depended on it.

Friends, obedience is not optional if you consider yourself a follower of Jesus. It has to be your primary motivation just as it was for Jesus. When the world brings you troubles that seem overwhelming, all of your other aspirations might just get thrown out the window. But if you stand firm in your desire to be obedient to the Father, no matter what that means or what path he calls you to walk, absolutely NOTHING can stand against you! And that, brothers and sisters, is freedom that you simply cannot experience otherwise.


Anonymous said...

I liked both posts this week because I do feel this is very important to obey God. With that said, there have been many times in my life to where I didn't do what the Lord asked of me and of course with sin there are consequences.

For the most part when I hear the words "submit”, “obey", and "obedience" it makes me want to cringe and sometimes I do. Why I say this is because there have been plenty of times in my life to where I have fallen short, big time. I know many others who have or are in the same boat. During those periods I realize I need the Lord and need to get back on track. But, there are also those negative feelings about you, struggles with forgiveness and pain that come along with our sins and hopefully healing process.

So, to my question...

Do you guys sometimes think that during a sermon or talking with someone who is a new Christian that it's important to choose your words wisely?

My feelings on this...

I think there are more pleasant words that we could use so, those individuals could actually feel like they have a chance at this "God thing". Not only have that, but to keep those listening ears opened for directions or suggestions. Being able to internalize the word of God and not thinking that this is such a tall order. Like I said earlier there are many who shut down when they hear "obey", "obedience" and "submit". I like: to follow, walking into the light, turning things over (ie: your will), right living, and good orderly direction.


Would this be watered down Christianity? I'm not saying to change what scripture says, but to point out other ways to look at those difficult words that are in the Bible.

Katie said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

My opinion is it's always important to choose our words wisely, whether we're talking to a new Christian, or a more mature one, or a non-Christian. As you pointed out, a simple choice of words can profoundly affect how someone perceives what you're trying to convey.

In any discussion encouraging someone to "submit" or "obey," I believe there is another word that must be included - "grace." We need to strive for perfect obedience, but at the same time we are humans and will fall short. It is important to stress that there is grace and forgiveness for when we will inevitably mess up.

Every Christian is called to obedience to God, regardless of how long he or she has been a believer. Regardless of the word we choose, the idea that must be conveyed is the same: follow God in all you do.

Logan said...

I agree with both of your comments, but do have some thoughts of my own to share. I think that what is brought up here is the great struggle for balance that the Church is missing right now, but that we still need to continue to strive for. I was just talking to a friend today at lunch about the recent letters to the editor in the local paper where people are going back and forth about the debate over whether homosexuality is clearly wrong in the Bible. My friend and I were talking about how there are just two extremes that are both missing a key point. On the one side, you have "watered-down Christianity" (to use a phrase from Anonymous' comment) where people are constantly trying to find ways to say that something the Bible declares is sin is somehow acceptable in God's eyes. This is very dangerous because it gives people the impression that God somehow lowers His standard for righteousness when it is really really hard. We have to remember that grace not only saves us from the consequences of our DIS-obedience, but also gives us the freedom and strength to BE OBEDIENT. We can't just look at grace like its purpose is to allow us to sin. On the other side of the debate, you have those that want to say that certain sinners are "going to hell", as if they are the ones who get to make that decision. People get instantly offended by such talk because there's probably nothing worse you could say to someone than "you're going to hell" when you're not the one who decides that. These points are true regarding any sin. The Church needs to find that balance between making sure people understand that it's not okay to paint their desired sins as acceptable to God when His Word says they're not, while still loving people and showing them that the Church is not their judge.

I had another paragraph at the beginning of my original draft for this blog that was not included in the final posting. In that paragraph, I essentially talked about how Katie and I strive to be obedient to how the Lord has called us each week when we write these blogs. With that said, we are still likely to say something incorrect, confusing, or misleading at times. For this reason, we rely on each other and other Worldview Warriors staff to help us, correct our errors, and keep us accountable. So, in addition to grace, we also must rely on COMMUNITY when we as believers are trying to strive for obedience.