Obedience doesn’t sound like very good news to the average American ear. It seems like giving someone else control over my life, infringing on my freedom. It sounds like a loss of authority or self-determination (which no one seems to be excited about).
But Jesus is extending us an invitation to obey the Father’s commands.
Jn 15:9-12, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
Jesus tells us that we will remain in his love if we keep the commands the Father has given him and to us through him. In the afterword of Mary Margaret Funk’s Discernment Matters, I recently read this line: “To obey is not doing someone else’s will; it is to have the same will.”
Obedience is the choice to agree with another and go along with them in their way. My obedience to the Father is rooted in confidence in God’s wisdom, God’s care and God’s goodness. God has the best information for me on how to really live well.
Of course this requires trust. I may not see right away how a particular directive from God will lead me into places of greater and truer life. There are times when doing what God says seems to limit my freedom or derail my joy.
There may be part of me that disagrees with his counsel. Obviously, there is a part of me that still believes that the comfort, or joy, or satisfaction I long for is out there somewhere beyond the neighborhood of obeying God’s way. So I grab for more experiences or seek more recognition out there thinking this is what I want or need. What I need is not mostly out there but mostly in here with God.
Going back to the language of Jesus in John 15, agreeing with the intentions of the Father bring me into alignment with His love. Jesus knows that such a place will bring more real joy than any path I’d choose on my own.
And the main command of God is fairly simple: Love God. Love your neighbor. It may not always be easy to move in this direction, but it is always good and life-giving.
It would help us to examine places of disobedience that have arisen in our lives over time. What mistaken ideas about joy, life or love lie at the heart of these decisions? How might a change in thinking be a move in the direction of my truest hopes, dreams or desires?
For Unhurried Reflection
Why not talk with God a bit about obedience and disobedience in your life. Talk about what you’ve done that you are sad to have done. Talk about what you haven’t done that wish you had. Let yourself be surprised by God’s kind, patience, gracious, merciful response.
Remember that condemnation is not God’s way with us. We are fully loved and accepted in Christ exactly where we find ourselves in the present moment.