Monday, July 20, 2009

Why Be Good? Part 3

Well, it's not "tomorrow" anymore, but here's the rest of my thoughts on this...

So why be good? Why do what is right? If you live long enough, there will necessarily be periods when you simply don't find obedience to God for its own sake that compelling a motivation. Likewise, given time, you will find that life with God isn't composed of one long, uninterrupted period of having every difficulty solved and every rough place made smooth. In fact, though there are blessings, it seems that God quite deliberately does not answer every prayer we pray to rescue us from trials, pain, and suffering. Duty and gratitude aren't necessarily bad, they just aren't sufficient to sustain your Christian life over the long haul, which is why many Christians bail out on the faith over time.

But according to Jesus, the ultimate reason for obedience isn't duty or the fact that obedience sometimes produces blessings and pleasant circumstances in a believer's life. The ultimate reason for continuing to follow him is love. He said,
If you love me, you will obey what I command - John 14:15
I find this statement fascinating. He doesn't say that obedience = love, which is what a good many dutiful Christians seem to think. Neither does he say that our obedience will lead to a pleasurable life for us. Instead, he says that love precedes obedience, so that our obedience should grow out of our love for him. In other words, where we find little obedience to Christ, it's because there is little real love for Christ, or at least that the love we have doesn't outweigh our sinful desires.

And that is what I find most compelling and challenging about the Christian life. We are not forced into obedience through threats, bribed into it through blessings, or even bound to it by duty. We are called to it through God's love and told that if we love in return, we will naturally want to do those things by which He is pleased. We obey God, in other words, not because we must, but because the love of Christ so moves our hearts that we want to obey.

Lord, help me to grow in my understanding of you that I might grow also in my love for you and therefore grow in my obedience to you. Amen.

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