Why Is "Obedience" Such a Dirty Word, and What You Can Do About It

Actually, obedience has never been that popular – just read any page of the Bible!

But we also live in an era that feels burned by religion. And rejecting obedience seems to be a way of protesting, or getting back at, all those man-made rules and empty traditions.

Let's face it. There is, and always has been, a lot of legalism in and around Christianity. It's a performance-based mindset that exploits our natural bent to think, "If I can just do the right things, then I will be OK." Of course, in our own strength we can't, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

And then there's the reality that we've grown up in spoiled, consumerism culture that markets to the "what's in it for me" gene.

-Burned by man-made rules and traditions.

-Betrayed by the "perform for a reward" mentality.

-Spoiled by appealing to what we get out of obedience.

The result? We just don't want other people to tell us what to do.

However, there are two kinds of obedience:

  1. Obedience to man-made rules and extra-biblical traditions. Toxic to the health of your soul.

  2. Obedience to the law of Christ. Health, freedom, and no condemnation to your soul.

And, there are two motivations behind obedience to Jesus:

  1. To make God happy (or avoid his wrath). Again, toxicity that will lead to a spirit of bitterness.

  2. As a grateful response to His love, grace, and forgiveness. Understanding grace (not so easy in a performance-based culture) will lead to a spirit of gratitude.

So how do we get to the place where we are motivated by grace to obey God as a grateful response?

  1. Be part of a community that doesn't have a high bar of man-made, legalistic rules and traditions you must obey to receive, or maintain, grace.

  2. Fill up to an overflow in your personal relationship with Jesus. The Gospel should produce gratitude in your heart. Then, out of the overflow of your gratitude, let the Holy Spirit prompt you to obey the law of Christ revealed in His Word.

Let us each fill up so much in our relationship with Jesus that we are motivated by grace to obey Him as a grateful response to the great love with which He has loved us.

Until every church disciples every man…

Patrick Morley, PhD Founder and Chairman, Man in the Mirror