Often times I go into deep thought regarding the true meaning of obedience. Specifically, what it entails and what are its implications. As I think about this, I know that I can find answers to these questions in the Scriptures. So let us ask two questions and then consult God’s word for the answers.
What is absolute obedience? What does it look like? In Acts of the Apostles, Luke writes about the arrest of the apostles in chapter five. These men were arrested for the proclamation of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The Jewish leaders were absolutely offended by their teaching, thus sending the apostles to prison. During their imprisonment, an Angel of the Lord came to release them, so that they may go out and proclaim the word of Life. After these men were let out of prison, they went right back to doing what God had called them to do. Being witnesses for the gospel of Jesus Christ by proclaiming His name to all people. Then the officers, along with the high priest approached the apostles and brought them before the council. In front of the council, the apostles were interrogated for their teaching in the name of Jesus. The high priest made a point that he had instructed them not to teach in “this name” (referring to Jesus), yet they continued to teach in Jerusalem. Following the interrogation, Peter and the apostles responded in such a way that brought shock to all of the council, to the officers, and to the high priest himself. They answered, “29We must obey God rather than men! 30The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him” (Acts 5:31-32). What a response! The apostles display complete submission and absolute obedience to God, who has called them to a specific mission for their lives; to be His witnesses. And nothing will interfere with this calling as they give absolute obedience to their heavenly Father, and His calling on their lives.
This incredible lesson of absolute obedience is displayed so beautifully for us in God’s word. No matter who or what gets in the way of our absolute obedience, we shall seek to be faithful to what God is calling us to do. God calls us to absolute obedience so that we may participate in the work of Christ in this world. That calling requires our utmost obedience to Him. This means that no matter where God leads, challenges, or directs us, we respond in obedience. God may also call us to do something that we are not sure about, yet He is requiring our obedience in that decision, thus we must proceed in trusting Him. Charles Stanley once said,
“If you tell God no because He won’t explain the reason He wants you to do something, you are actually hindering His blessing. But when you say yes to Him, all of heaven opens to pour out His goodness and reward your obedience. What matters more than material blessings are the things He is teaching us in our spirit.”
We must grasp that we are not living for ourselves, nor are we living for the approval of others. Instead, we are living for Jesus Christ. Not just thinking about living for Him, but actually living for Him. It is way too easy to think that we are living for Christ, when we are actually living for our own personal and selfish desires, while pretending that God has us where we WANT to be. Too often we think about the concept of obedience, and avoid the absolute obedience that we are called to as Christians. So what hope do we have then in our failure to achieve absolute obedience? Our absolute obedience is only possible with Christ. Apart from Christ, we can not achieve absolute obedience. Christ is our perfect obedience and He will help us in our pursuit of absolute obedience.
What is God calling you to? How is God asking you to obey Him in this season of life? Do you trust that Jesus’ perfect obedience counts for you? Trust in Christ to help you in your obedience, because He has achieved perfect obedience. “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). He was perfect obedience on our behalf, even to the point of death. God had called His Son to perfect obedience by taking on the sins of the world, even to the point of death on the cross (Philippians 2:8). Due to this obedience, God raised His Son from the dead, giving us hope in life everlasting. Let us dwell in the beauty of Christ’s obedience on our behalf so that we may be able to be strengthened by His love for us. This should then give us the strength we need to be obedient.