JUNE 2004 CALENDAR ARTICLE
OUR THEME THIS YEAR:
Serving God with Humility and Love
Obedience — a “Must” in the Life of a Servant
by Chuck Huffine
After Jesus had miraculously fed the five thousand, he was surrounded by a group of people who, on the surface, seemed to be seeking the way to please God. They asked Jesus, in John 6:28-29, “‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’ Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent.’” They must have found his answer unsatisfying, because the conversation quickly deteriorated into their demands for a sign and their unbelief.
At first they appeared to be seeking the way to obey God. But rather than being submissive, obedient seekers, they became hostile and demanding. As Jesus spoke with this contentious group, it became obvious that the belief he spoke of would have to be more than just believing and agreeing that Jesus was sent by God. The belief Jesus spoke of requires all of a person’s heart and soul and mind. It appears that this crowd was not ready to obey a command that required so much of them. Perhaps they were looking for a law that they could obey while their minds were free to wander wherever they would. Maybe they were hoping Jesus would give them an outward work to do so that they could meet God’s requirements while they were free to hate their neighbor, or devise plans to cheat their clients, or to think lustful thoughts. Obedience to God starts with our submission to God and encompasses every area of our lives. We need to ask God what we must do to do the works he requires, then be ready to do it and not argue with him about it.
Even Jesus was not too good to be submissive and obedient to God. Hebrews 5:8 tells us that “he learned obedience from what he suffered.” And Romans 5:19 says, “Through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” Jesus “did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8). And Paul urges us to have the same attitude as Jesus.
Obey God by letting him sanctify you through and through. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 says, “May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Again we are being told that our devotion to God takes every fiber of our being. This is a process of coming before God seeking to be changed daily into his image. We must willingly repent of any activity or attitude that blocks us from becoming that sanctified, blameless servant.
Obey God by obeying the authority he has placed over you. Ephesians 6:1 says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” In the workplace, our relationship to our bosses can probably be likened somewhat to the slave and master relationship in the New Testament. Ephesians 6:5 says, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” And Paul goes on to say that you should “serve as if you were serving the Lord, not men.”
Obey the governing authorities. “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted” (Romans 13:1-2). The first half of Romans 13 tells us clearly that if we are to be obedient to God, we must be obedient to our government.
We are to obey the leaders in the church. Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” The elders, deacons and ministers in the church make many sacrifices to serve us. They do this work, not for any glory or power, but because they want to serve God’s people. And they must give an account to God for the fruit of their service. Why would we want to make their service burdensome? Obey them and make their service a joy to perform.
Our obedience to God begins with our belief and trust in Jesus. We have an “obedience that comes from faith” (Romans 1:5). Our obedience is not just an outward activity, but it springs from our heart, soul, mind and body. Every part of us is involved in obeying God and any part that is not is in rebellion to Him. What must I do to do the works God requires? Believe in the One he sent.