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Is obedience a good thing? Part 2
"It is good."
Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
This seems fairly cut and dry. If one thing is true, then a second thing will be true. Simple logic means that if this statement is true, then a person who is not following His commandments does not love Him (or is not loving Him). If Jesus’ statement is false… if any of Jesus’ statements is false, then that “pretty much” makes Christianity a farce. The substitutionary, sacrificial death that pays for the sins of the world is not possible if Jesus is reduced to the ranks of the sinners. So we have to trust in the truth of all of Jesus’ statements, if we are to accept the salvation and reconciliation that He made available to all of mankind. (It is an all or nothing situation.)
In horizontal relationships, e.g. between two persons on equal standing like friends, siblings, coworkers, etc., a statement like Jesus’ made (above) would probably strain or harm the relationship. If one person places himself or herself into submission to the authority of the other, then the relationship becomes vertical. A successful relationship that is truly horizontal is based on helping and sharing not controlling or demanding. If such a demand to establish authority is made and not accepted, then there will most likely be a separation in the relationship.
Man’s relationship with God is not a peer relationship. There are many people who do not understand that there are different kinds and levels of relationships. And that ignorance can cause problems.
If two people have a peer relationship, and a relationship of authority is introduced (e.g. one becomes the boss in a work environment), then the two people cannot simply respond to each other as before. The one in authority must protect and care for the other as well as act as a supervisor, which includes enforcing policies and procedures associated with the work or situation. It requires higher values and standards, because of the added responsibility. And the one under authority must no longer assume that, when it comes to the new situation, he is free to be casual and equal to his new boss – he must show respect, trust and obedience to the position and directions of the authority. If either fails to do his part, there will be a problem. Both types of relationships that they had can be broken, and there can be painful consequences.
When Jesus came to this earth to live among people, He was able to have two different kinds of relationships. (And actually was part of an authority relationship as the one under authority as well). As part of mankind, He was on a peer level. He had all of same feelings and experiences (except for sin) as all of those around him. He had friends whom he loved, but he also had followers. When those friends who were also followers raised their friendship relationship over the authority relationship, Jesus’ response was a corrective explanation of their shortsightedness or even a rebuking “Get behind me Satan!”
The love that Jesus’ had for His Disciples and really for all mankind was very special. He was able to demonstrate His love completely and fully both as a peer and as the supreme authority. As a peer, He acted as a humble servant – He gave and provided for their needs as well as performing acts of service and kindness. He was diligent to act in ways to build up the relationships with selfless acts. He practiced exactly what He preached. He was the perfect example for us on how to participate in a horizontal relationship. As an authority, He provided guidance, direction, teaching, answers, questions, understanding, commandments, solutions, miracles, signs, protection, correction, discipline and perfection. As a friend, He laid down His life for us all. As an authority, He tore down the wall that our Sin had built between God and man.
As a peer, He also demonstrated to us (again perfectly) how to be the one under authority. He loved God the Father and placed Himself under His authority without exception. Jesus desired completely the relationship He had with God the Father and in all He did on earth was faithful to fully enjoy completely that relationship even when faced with temptations (common to all men) to do otherwise. He never placed His desires over the Will of the Father. He completely honored and respected the Holiness and Will of the Father. No exception. No matter how much it seemed simpler or better to do it a different way, He always completely trusted in the wisdom of the Father.
There are benefits to relationships. God knows this and He is constantly trying to get us to understand what these are. We are however quick to confuse the pleasant feelings and/or gratification that comes from other things with the long lasting and more valuable benefits of having a relationship. We also in our selfish blindness, sacrifice the greater, long-lasting benefit for that quick "good" feeling that fades and creates a longing to have the feeling again. Feelings always fade and eventually either they become our master through addiction or we become desensitized to them and then are left searching for something else to fill the void.
We are gregarious creatures. God created us for relationships first vertically with Him and second horizontally with others. We will be happiest when we are enjoying healthy growing relationships with God and with other people.
By always submitting to God’s authority—by obeying His commandments, we are showing God that we completely respect who He is and trust Him and His Word. God is the creator of all. He designed everything and established how everything works. He also knows that a love built upon complete trust that is freely given, voluntarily and not forced, provides contentment and joy that eclipse any feeling derived solely from the emotional responses. He gave us a free will so that He could enjoy the relationship based upon love and that we could also enjoy it.
God is a trinity, so He also knows the value of the horizontal relationship. He declared that it was not good for man to be alone in that sense, and created woman so that mankind could also experience a horizontal love as well.
We as people also know that we are fragile and temporal creatures. The pains and fears that we have are manifestations of that. We have a design that incorporates a need for an authority to provide protection, happiness, solutions, and prosperity. God provides precisely that when we are obedient. That is exactly what we need (God designed us—He knows). And when we are obedient, God is also happy and motivated to provide for us even more. Plus a bond is created and nurtured, and we experience a happiness that in God’s terminology would be called a blessing.