March 4 I Monday
“Anyone who loves Me will obey My teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” —John 14:23
Like two wings on an aircraft, trust and obedience go hand and hand in the Christian life. They must be understood separately, but never be detached from one another.
Obedience to the commands of the Lord Jesus without trust in Him for the strength and ability those commands require will lead to frustration and temptation to hypocrisy. If we take the teaching and commands of Jesus seriously without an understanding of His role in their fulfillment, we will be discouraged and disillusioned because His commands are humanly impossible. This is why Christendom is such a fertile ground for hypocrisy and pretense, as people try hard to obey but without drawing on the resources of God’s strength to fulfill what He commands.
On the other hand, to be trusting Christ without a willful, active obedience on our part will lead into a realm of mysticism known since the 17th century as “quietism.” As the name suggests, quietism is a passive and wholly subjective resting in God, doing only what one feels constrained and moved by the Spirit to do. Both trust without obedience and obedience without trust are unhealthy positions and fall short of what it means to live by faith.
Obedience is an issue at the basis of all genuine Christian experience. The Christian life begins with surrender to and acknowledgment of the authority of Christ as Lord over our lives. This kind of initial surrender must be followed by active obedience to the general instruction of Scripture and the particular direction of God over our personal lives. Our experience of the power and sufficiency of God will be within the context of obedience to Him. God’s power is available only for God’s purposes, and His purposes are always for the betterment of our lives and the world at large.
For most of us, obedience is the greatest stumbling block in our relationship with God. When God puts a task before us, He does not work outside of our obedience to Him, nor does He prove anything in advance of our obedience. Conversely, if we move outside of obedience to His will, we move outside of the resources of God. But as Paul tells us, “… it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). For everything God calls us to do, He is the enabling. Major Ian Thomas has said, “There are few things quite so boring as being religious, but there is nothing quite so exciting as being a Christian!” The Christian life is exciting when in obedience to God, trusting who He is, we step out in faith and leave the consequences to Him.
Prayer: Lord, there are things I know are outside of Your will and they continue to tempt me. I ask for Your help in obedience so that my life is lived in total submission to You. Thank You, Lord.