• Steven Marsh

How Important is Obedience Anyway?

I have been thinking alot lately about obedience. Time and time again, the psalmist declares that God’s commands make us wise. How? We become wise through obedience. As followers of Jesus obedience should be our hallmark. But who likes obedience? Don’t lie. Do not have sex outside of marriage. Don’t cheat. Be faithful within marriage or chaste in singleness. Do not covet or commit murder. Do not hate. Only through obediently believing God’s promises.

As a leader in the Presbyterian Church (USA), specifically a pastor in a local congregation, I wonder how obedience really “plays” in staff minds and the minds of congregants. Obedience is powerful, but scary. To be obedient to Jesus means self-sacrifice, not self promotion. To be obedient to Jesus means loving the unlovable, not only those I merit as worthy of my love or those who are easy to love. Often, leaders in our churches are more obedient to institutional standards than to Jesus. The church as an institution is bankrupt when it comes to eternal things. For example, in Jesus’ day the temple was holy ground. But, the leaders of the synagogue corrupted the temple. 

The New Testament teaches that individual believers made up the temple of God. And so the worship wars continue. Worship has become focused on beverages can be brought into the space; music, casual clothing, convenience and basic personal preferences dominate the worship scene. Oh my!! It is the blood of Jesus Christ that makes a difference. But in today’s politically correct environment, the death of Jesus is child abuse…so goes the liberal mantra. Has the church become a place of entertainment as opposed to worship? Has the church become a social service agancy, stripping itself of the word of the Gospel and only offering deeds?

And so, the kingdom of God appears to be divided. But we know better. The Kingdom of God cannot be divided against itself. The Gospel in word and deed must be proclaimed. Both, not one or the other. From church being all about the pastor, the drivel of psycho babble, bands playing to their hearts content, choirs holding fort, people protecting their unholy alliances, rigid lines declaring holiness divided on matters of sexual orientation and the list goes on…is it any wonder that the world laughs at the church? What are your thoughts when it comes to obedience and what obedience looks like?

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