By Pr Isaiah White
In the Old Testament, over 28 crimes attract death. Those who stoned people to death believed in a legal and justice where the law directly or indirectly dictated that if one hurt a person or property, they must, in one way or another, be subjected to an equal hurt.
The community in Deuteronomy 21:18-21 was one whose faith valued morals more than human life.
In that community, a parent would kill their child for being disobedient.
To that pagan society, such murder was considered faith to their gods (Jeremiah 7:30-32, Deuteronomy 12:31).
Besides the gruesomeness of the act, the faith exhibited in that society communicates two elements: First, the belief system expressed teaches us the importance of obedience in life. Secondly, we learn the ideology of their value system.
Obedience and disobedience are both expressions of faith. Obedient people express their faith in authority. They like functionality and progress.
While disobedient people on the other hand, express their faith in no authority, but a community where everyone has authority, leading to conflict and failure.
Obedience to the Jewish faith was so important that the fifth commandment (Honor your father and mother) adds the clause, “That your days may be long”.
In other words, the life of a child depended on how obedient they were.
We are reminded in Isaiah 1:19 and Deuteronomy 11:27 that we will always eat the best of the world if we are obedient.
In the New Testament, we are all asked to submit and obey. Husbands are asked to treat their wives with respect (1Peter 3:7), wives are to be submissive to their husbands (Colossians 3:18), children are to obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1), and workers are asked to obey their bosses (Ephesians 6:5).
Christians exhibit their love to Jesus through their obedience to His commands (John 14:15, 23).
Obedience is the functionality of every relationship; be it spiritual, social, professional or intimate.
Romans 6:16 warns against the object of our obedience. We become slaves to whatever authority we obey.
If we are obedient to sin, then we are slaves destined for death, but if we obey the Lord and what is right, we are destined for righteousness.
Obedience, especially to us Christians, is an expression of our faith in God.
It is a principle of life that cannot be traded with anything materialistic. The Bible says obedience is better than sacrifices or offertories as practiced in the modern day (1Samuel 15:22).
Motive to obey
While our faith is expressed in how obedient and respectful we are, obedience is not about random acts.
It is about deep intentions exercised. It is not about following prescribed set of rules, but the will to abide by even the unwritten code of humane conduct.
The quality of our obedience corresponds to the motives of the obedient.
The two motives
- Fear: Many people are obedient because they are afraid of punishment. There are people who are obedient to God because they do not want to go to hell. When they obey, they are expressing how afraid they are of the consequences of disobedience.
If you took away the penalties and all the dreadful ends attached to disobedience, these people would surely not obey.
Many people obey out of the fear of what they will suffer, while others obey because of the fear of what they will lose. As Christians, we should not obey out fear.
- Love: Christian obedience ought to be drawn and motivated by love.
A loving relationship between a Christian and the authority should serve as the rationale of their obedience.
We obey our bosses, spouses, parents and all other community authorities because of the love we have between us.
As Christians, we are not called to obey God so that we can fall in love with Him. Instead, we are called to love God in order to obey Him.
Jesus did not say: “If you obey me, you will love me.” Rather, he says: “If you love me then you can obey me” (John 14:15, 15:10).
Obedience demonstrates who we are, the kind of God we worship and the world we anticipate.
Obedience does not secure us better relations with God than the ones we have with Him already. It is rather the effect of that relationship we have with Him.
The Bible concludes: “We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete” (2Corinthians 10:5-6).
The writer is a pastor and life coach.