I listened to a sermon preached by my mentor, Vasile Filat, and I would like to share some of the main points here with you in this article.
We live in an age when obedience is seen as a negative word. Children are taught to be disobedient in schools. The teachings are subtle but have a lasting impact. Children are being taught that they have rights without responsibilities. This is very dangerous. Children are learning how to manipulate their parents instead of obeying them. They are taught to be suspicious of all authority figures, even to be suspicious of their own parents. Instead of learning to be grateful to their parents for all that their parents do for them, they are taught that because of their rights, they parents owe them everything. Children are learning to be expectant, entitled to their rights without a second thought of their own responsibilities. I have even heard of cases where children have reported their parents to the authorities claiming that they are being exploited because their parents have made them do chores. We have a couple of generations that have grown up with this entitlement mentality and now they expect the government to provide for them. They claim that they are poor, not because of bad choices but because the government, or their families are not providing for their every need and want. This mentality already exists in us from our birth because of our sin nature and now, unlike any other time in history, this mentality is being encouraged. We do not need to be encouraged in our sinfulness. We need to be taught to overcome our sin nature. We see this being encouraged in the home. Wives are no longer encouraged to be submissive to their husbands, as if submission were a bad thing. Equality is the new buzz word. In a Biblical sense, equality among spouses does not mean that the roles are the same. Husbands and wives are equal in the sight of God, yet, God has established different roles in the home and one of those roles for the wife is to be submissive to her husband. Because entitlement is encouraged and equality at all costs, even in roles, now both men and women view submission to authority as a negative symbol. Logically speaking, when there are two leaders on a team and neither takes the submissive role, the team does not prosper. When one leads and the other follows (helps) the team is able to prosper. These societal teachings have begun to impact the church in a very negative way. One of the common complaints of church leaders today is that the members no longer what to submit to the leaders’ authority. This is direct disobedience to God and His Word. The aggressive form of this disobedience is seen in the way that members talk to the leaders and the way that they talk about the leaders to others. A more passive example of this disobedience is seen in the fact that members do not do what the leaders ask them to do. For example, there is a call to action and very few respond. The leaders feel led by God in one direction and the members simply do not want to follow. Everyone seems to do what is right in their own eyes. Members do not see the need to follow leaders claiming that they can hear from God and follow Him without the direction of the leadership of the church. The church is to be light to the dark world around us, impacting the world in a positive way for Christ, yet, it seems that the world is impacting the church and its members in a negative way. Negative aspects of the world are flourishing in the church and the virtues of the church are disappearing from society. There needs to be a change and the change needs to begin in the life of each person who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
Because of all of this negative influence, I felt the need to teach on the importance of obedience from a Biblical perspective. The message is first and foremost for the church and then the members of the church are to take this positive example of obedience and influence the society in which we live. Many people are confused when it comes to what obedience is and what it is not, therefore, we need to turn to the pages of Holy Scripture to discover what God calls obedience and what He calls disobedience.
I. What is obedience?
When we speak of obedience, we do not have in mind simply “hearing” what we are supposed to do. Obedience means hearing with the purpose of understanding and then, applying (putting into action) what we learn. Let’s take a look at Philippians 2, where the Apostle Paul explains what obedience looks like in a practical manner. The word obey, or, obedience is used often in chapter 2. This teaching came as a result of a conflict among the believers. Paul addresses the problem of conflict directly. There is a lack of unity among the believers and that is why he writes the following:
3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;
6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;28 in no way alarmed by your opponents -which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.29 For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
Finally, we end this section with Hebrews 13:17.
As a member of the body of Christ, you have spiritual leaders whom God has placed over you. They have been delegated spiritual authority from the Lord and they will give an account to Him of how they walked in that authority. God commands that your obedience to Him be manifested in your attitude toward your spiritual leaders. If you cannot honor and respect your spiritual leaders in the church, you are not a person who walks in genuine obedience. Again, this idea of obedience should be something that was modeled to you from childhood by your parents and taught to you by your parents, from the Word of God. If you did not grow up in a home of followers of Christ, then you can learn from your spiritual leaders. It is never too late. If you are a person who lives out genuine obedience on a daily basis, then you will bring joy to your spiritual leaders, and to everyone who leads you in any capacity. On the other hand, if you do not obey from the heart, then, you cause grief to your spiritual leaders and to everyone else who leads you.
II. Abraham’s example
Abraham, the man who is considered the father of our faith, he was a man who walked in genuine obedience as a way of life. He was not always that way. He had to be taught. He was a fast learner. One of the key things about Abraham in the Scriptures is the fact that when God told him to do something, he acted immediately. When God called Abraham to follow Him, he acted immediately. When God told Abraham to circumcise himself, and all the men in his household, at 99 years old, he did it immediately. Again, when asked to offer Isaac as a sacrifice to the Lord, he rose early in the morning and traveled three days to the spot God showed to him. He did not grumble. He did not try to convince God to change His mind.
Genuine obedience flows out of a deep respect for God. It means receiving a command from God, understanding God’s command, and then doing what God says, from the heart, with the right attitude, trusting that God is in control and will only allow things that are good for you to happen to you.
So my dear friend, what about you, is obedience a part of your daily life? Do you obey God from the heart with the right attitude? Do you submit to God, to your parents, to your boss, to you spiritual leaders, to other believers? I pray that the Lord will bless His Word that we have learned and that It will produce the fruit of obedience in all of us.