Discipleship and Obedience

John 14:15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” Jesus to His Disciples in the Upper room.

John 14:21 “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.” Jesus to His Disciples in the upper room.

John 14:23 “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” Jesus to His Disciples in the upper room.

John 14:31 “…but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” Jesus to His Disciples in the upper room.
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Discipleship, like it or not, is about obedience. However, to reduce discipleship to mere obedience is to flirt with, if not entirely stumble head long, down the wide road that leads to destruction.

As I study and understand discipleship, it does not begin with obedience, it begins with a love [agape] relationship. A relationship with Jesus, where we realize our need for forgiveness, we accept grace, and we seek to become more like Jesus each and every day. Discipleship is all about becoming like our Rabbi, Jesus. [see my very first post if you want to know more]
May you be Covered in the Dust of Your Rabbi

This relationship of [agape] love does not excuse my disobedience. Rather, it informs my obedience.

To understand this it is worth exploring the two basis upon which most human beings choose obedience or disobedience.

Basis 1 of Obedience is fear. This is the most common of all choices for being obedient. I obey the speed limit, because I don’t want [fear] a ticket. I don’t touch the hot stove, because I don’t want [fear] the pain. I obey the commandments because I don’t want [fear] to go to hell. This has been one of the primary manipulation tools used throughout Christian history to convince people to profess Jesus as Lord. The disconnection with this basis of obedience is that the fear of hell lessens over time and becomes less persuasive an obligation for obedience.

Basis 2 of Obedience is Love… this the real basis for obedience. Our obedience to the commands of Jesus, come from our love [agape] relationship. We love our Jesus, so much that the thought/temptation of being disobedient has less and less influence over us. Our obedience to the commands/teachings is informed and bathed in the fellowship that we enjoy with the God-head.

Notice in John 14:15, Jesus sets the stage that love is the basis of obedience. “If you love me, you will obey…” Again in John 14:23 “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.” Jesus could not be any clearer about why we obey Him. But this is the “narrow gate”; it is the harder choice.

With fear the basis of obedience, if I disobey, the consequence of my sin is usually delayed and if experienced by myself I can explain it away.

With a love [agape] basis for obedience, when I disobey, I have to look my Savior in the eye and own up to my selfishness and sin. In my repentance, I come face to face with the depth of my depravity, and see the wounds that I have caused to others, to myself and to Jesus.

Yet, in this face to face meeting, Jesus still loves me. Jesus calls me to experience his grace and mercy and to come closer to Him, so that I might become more like Him.

Consider this…
– What is the underlying narrative for my obedience to the commands of Jesus? Is it fear, manipulation, or love?
– What areas am I struggling with in obedience to Jesus commands? How does a relationship of love inform those areas of struggle?
– Who do I know who so well, that I could assume that they mostly follow Jesus out of fear? What could I do to share with them the idea of obedience out of love?

As always I welcome your questions and thoughts as together we journey toward Jesus.

One thought on “Discipleship and Obedience”

  1. My desire for obedience seems to be greatest when my relationship with someone is close. When I spend time & intimacy with someone, I “desire” to be obedient. To even put their needs above my own. But when I don’t spend that time & intimacy, it becomes an oblgation or fear.

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