“God has lots of children in the church today; I’m honestly not sure He has many friends.”
So said Mike Pilavachi at last weekend’s Worship Central conference. I haven’t been able to get the quote out of my head ever since.
Mike was talking about how we can be more intimate with God. He commented that God wants His church to grow up – not to stop being His children, but to be His friends too.
Exploring the concept of friendship, Mike said that while he’s heard of “the five love languages” God has a sixth: obedience.
I have been pondering this subject for a while myself. As God’s people, what is it that sets us apart, which shows we belong to Him? Surely obedience to Him is a key indicator of that?
God never stands over us beating us into submission, and yet Jesus said that if we love Him we will obey His commands (John 14:15). The ultimate expression of love is doing things that we know will please the other person – and that basically boils down to obedience.
We can see that at work in the relationship Jesus describes in John 15, where He says that He loves because His Father has loved Him, and that He remains in God’s love by keeping His commands. He urges us to do the same, in order to enjoy that relationship of love and joy for ourselves too:
“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.” (vv10–11)
John expresses the same sentiment in 1 John 5:3: “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome…”
So why do we find the whole idea of obedience difficult? Well, as Mike pointed out, as a society we don’t like to be told what to do; our culture is a very individualistic one in which I am in control of my destiny.
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