Often I engage with people in conversations about God and the Bible. Many times I do not know where they stand with God until we begin talking. More often than not, I hear “I believe in God”, “I pray”, “I’ve asked for forgiveness”, “I’ve been baptized”, or even “Jesus is my Savior and Lord.” Yet, in the midst of these religious professions I have noticed a glaring problem. There is a wide chasm between their profession and daily lifestyle. The two do not line up. When I observe this and ask a question like, “It’s wonderful you state that Jesus is your Savior and Lord. Do you obey Him?” Then I hear the sound of crickets. Somehow, someway, they have been exposed to a teaching that tells them obedience to God does not matter. They have been taught that if they get all the right religious professions down and throw in a few important religious duties along with that, then God’s grace will cover them and their home in heaven is certain. Is this true?
Within days of Jesus’ death and resurrection, He was spending time with His disciples teaching them, preparing them for what was to come. He stressed the importance of obedience to Him four times, saying, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments . . .”, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.”, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word . . .”, Whoever does not love me does not keep my words” (John 14:15,21,23-24). Jesus, the Master Teacher, was emphasizing an absolutely essential truth in the Christian life – obedience to God matters. Notice the kind of obedience Jesus talked about was not mere rule keeping. It was an obedience that springs from a heart of love for Christ. Not a romantic love that is just feeling, but a love that is rational, deliberate, sacrificial and willing to lay down its life in suffering and death for Him if necessary, just like Jesus modeled through the cross. In addition to the obedience question, another one is, “You say Jesus is your Savior and Lord . . ., but do you love Him?”
The lyrics in our modern worship music extols the love of God, but where are the lyrics that also sings about our obedience to Him? Our evangelism proclaims the love of God in Christ inviting people to pray and make professions, rather than calling them to take up their cross and obey the gospel’s challenging call of repentance from sin. Our churches teach the love of God through biblical principles, keys and steps to be followed in order to live a better life, rather than biblical commands to be obeyed in order to live a holy life.
The church has created a whole generation of followers of Christ that elevate professions and feelings above the way of the cross. For it is rooted in a sacrificial love that is demonstrated in daily obedience to the Word of God and the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
What I am writing about is so important. Eternal souls are at stake. Every one of us is heading toward an appointment with God our Creator on Judgment Day. This should instill a healthy fear of God, and sense of accountability within each of us. As the Lord Jesus will one day examine us, are we just going to offer profession after profession? Jesus predicts this will actually happen. He once said people will come to Him on that day and say, “Lord, Lord” and He will reply, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46)
Obedience is non-negotiable. It is a must! It is an expression of saving faith and love toward Christ, who obeyed His own Father and gave all for Him. Let us follow the example of Jesus. And let us begin by obeying the call to repentance, to turn from what we know is wrong and to God with all our heart.
A prayer for you – “Lord God, help us as pastors, evangelists, missionaries and all believers to take your call to obedience seriously. Help us to go beyond teaching professions and principles to teaching obedience to the King of Kings. And may all believers everywhere humble themselves before your Word no matter the cost. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”