Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commands.” Wait..what? Does love come first? Or obedience? No one wants to be controlled. We all long for love..true and unconditional love. That love can only be found in God. It flows from Him. Once we fall in love, obedience is the natural result.
An Absent Father Was Hard to Obey
I grew up with a father who was absent quite a lot. He’d go away for long trips, then come home and expect me to obey him. I resisted that. “If you aren’t here, and part of my life, why should I do what you say?” my rebellious teenage mind declared.
There wasn’t enough relationship for me to willingly obey him (at that stage of my life anyhow). Oh, I obeyed. But not for the right reasons. Fear motivated me to do what he said. Fear of punishment and the pain of being told I was grounded from activities I loved to do.
That didn’t last very long. As soon as he was gone again, my obedience went out the door too. I only obeyed when he was there to enforce the commands.
Many people approach their relationship with God that way. They only obey out of fear of judgment. (Most people don’t want to go to Hell right?) This is a terrible way to live. It’s far beneath what God had in mind.
A Love Relationship With God
God wants a love relationship with us. He cares about us. He loved us so much that He was willing to die to take our sin (the punishment we deserve). As we enter and develop that love relationship with Him, it’s easy to obey. We trust Him. Our hearts believe that His commands were given for our own good. They were given to help and bless our lives.
Becoming a disciple of Jesus means choosing to follow Him. We make a decision to walk in His path, to model our lives after His. We know that He is God and His teachings are true. So why is it so hard to obey sometimes?
We can’t obey His commands apart from Him. It is His Spirit living inside of us that gives us the power to obey, to do what He has instructed us to do. Apart from that Spirit, when we try in our own strength, we repeatedly fail.
If our love relationship with Jesus is strong, when we are talking to Him every day, He encourages us and helps us to do His will. When we drift apart and rarely communicate, well, life gets a whole lot harder. Obedience feels like drudgery. We start to feel resentful about all the things He said we were supposed to do. Kind of like I did with my dad.
The thing is… God isn’t absent from us. He doesn’t leave us behind and go away on trips for work. He is right there with you, by your side.
So What’s the Problem Then?
The difficulty is we ignore Him. We forget to acknowledge His presence or take time to develop our relationship with Him. Busy with lots of other things, we need to pause and invite Him into our lives and activities.
One way I do this is by talking to Him throughout the day. I don’t just pray during my quiet time in the morning (though that is really important for our relationship). When I’m working in my garden, walking around my neighborhood, or grocery shopping, I remember He is there. I ask Him questions and talk to Him about daily life things. And, I listen to what He might want to say to me in those times too. Sometimes He reminds me of commands I read in Scripture. But most often, He reminds me of His great love. He whispers His love to me in different ways. Unusual things happen that I didn’t expect, like my friend stopping by right after I say to God, “Lord, I’m feeling kind of lonely today.” Signs of His love.
Jesus did go away into Heaven (Matthew 28). But He said He would come back. And in the meantime, He gave us His Holy Spirit; to live with and within us. God in the person of the Holy Spirit is always present and ready to communicate with you.
Why not ask God to help you fall in love with Him again? Obedience will come a whole lot more easily! It’s wonderful to obey the One you are in love with.