Friday, November 30, 2012

Love and Obedience

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind.  I had the blessing of witnessing the marriage of two very good friends the weekend after Thanksgiving.  It was an incredibly joyous time rejoicing with them as they made life-long commitments to one another before the Lord.  Weddings are interesting... it is an exciting time... a time to have fun, make memories, enjoy celebrating, etc., but it is a very holy time.  It is a sacred covenant being made before the Creator of all things including marriage.  I was discussing this very thing with the officiating pastor following the wedding and we were discussing how God made such a serious thing also be so joyful. 

As I have been reading in 1 John this week (1 John 5 today), I am reminded of a similar serious but joyful thing: obedience.  Obedience doesn't generally strike us as something really exciting or joyful when we hear the word, but when we consider that the Creator of all the universe is calling us to obey Him, that is an exceedingly joyful thing.  Love is a word we all like... we were created to both give and receive it... but how often do we connect love with obedience?  God does... and He tells us why He does!

Take a look at 1 John 5:1-4.
Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
When we begin to understand what an incredible privilege it is to be asked to do anything by the all-powerful, all-knowing God, there is absolutely no thought of obedience to Him being a burden.  Yet, God knows that we in our sinfulness far too often are so self-centered that we miss the fact that it is a privilege to serve Him and obey Him, so He reminds us that His commands are not burdensome!  God never meant obeying Him to feel like a burden.  He meant our obedience to be out of love and joy! 

I think back to times as a young boy when dad would ask me to help him on some kind of project... what an honor that was!  I got to help dad scrape gum off the tables at school!  I was absolutely elated to have the privilege of being with dad and help him with such an important task in preparing his classroom for the students. 

Alright, so what has changed?  Why do I feel like serving the Lord is a burden when not only is it not a burden, it is a privilege?  Why do I see serving others as a burden when in doing so, I am actually carrying out what the Lord has called me to--"by love, serve one another"?  Am I now too old or to big or too smart or too wise to do small things for the Lord?  Will I accept only big important tasks that get me noticed in front of others, or will I accept the small tasks that no one will ever notice or maybe they will even look down on me for? 

The Lord has so much work to do in humbling me!  Okay, so I do not always see serving Him as a burden.  By His grace, I often find great joy in serving Him.  His commandments truly are not a burden and He is continually giving me joy through the Holy Spirit in loving and obeying Him.  But don't miss the point!  I do not always obey Him joyfully... in fact, I don't always obey Him at all!  This is all a part of the sanctification process.  We need to become like little children once again and joyfully take the smallest of tasks from the Lord as an incredible privilege, obeying immediately and joyfully because there is no greater One that we could be serving.  There is no greater honor on earth than to be asked to do even the smallest of things by the Creator of all the earth.  May God give us grace and help to understand how blessed we are to be used by Him and turn our hearts toward loving and joyful obedience.

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