Obedience in Relationships

Relationship

I believe one of the biggest problems the unchurched have with religion is all of its rules. And let’s face it, if us Christians are being honest with ourselves, we know what they’re talking about. In my morning men’s group a friend of mine said something that really resonated with me. He stated, “Irrational changes only lead to regret”. That is so true. I’ve seen countless people come to Christ, make changes or give things up because someone else is telling them to, and then, because of the pressure to follow the rules, they end up falling away from Christ. Which leads us to this question…

Is it reasonable for God to have expectations?

In every healthy relationship changes are always necessary. These necessary changes are not, “The Rules of Relationship” but rather, the willingness to love the other person in they way they need to be loved. The same goes for our relationship with Christ. But again, is it reasonable for God to have expectations? Yes, because all love relationships do, and if we love him, we will be willing to grow into change with him. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commands.” Maybe it’s that we don’t like the word “commands”. Before getting to hung up on the word “commands”, ask yourself these questions; “what are the commands, why are they made, and are they reasonable”? When Jesus was approached by a young lawyer and asked “what is the great commandment?”, Jesus simply replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” To me, that sounds like something every good parent would require of their children. The reason it’s called a command is that it’s not optional, ever! Some say though that they want nothing to do with God because he’s an irrational tyrant. If we really look at the Bible and the requests God makes in it, his commands and punishments are really not any different than most parents. In all good parenting situations the punishment typically fits the crime. If you were to come home and find that your children had not only neglected their chores and homework, but also had gotten into a huge fight and during the scuffle broke several valuable items around the house, would you be considered an irrational tyrant for being upset and giving your children strong discipline? Of course not! When you’re in a loving relationship there’s not one scenario when love doesn’t have expectations, and when those expectations are not met, adjustments and correction are needed, and in extreme cases, demanded.

How To be a Good Christian

I will admit though, being a good Christian is easier said than done. As odd as this may sound, it’s due to the fact that God doesn’t punish us in the moment for our wrong doings. As it turns out, he typically allows the consequences of our poor choice to deal out their own blows. If we lie and get caught, people no longer trust us. If we get angry and hurt someone, we go to jail. Life punishes us when we misbehave, not God. At some point though, we just decide to stop being selfish, buckle down, and do the right thing, because that’s what the relationship is asking for. There’s an old ancient Chinese proverb that says this, “The journey of a 1,000 miles begins with the first step” and that’s what many of us need to do, just be willing to take that first step towards a healthy relationship with God. Not based off of fear, but love. Jesus said in 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”

Letting Go of Fear

The best part of letting go of fear and living in love, is that new ministry always becomes available to the willing and obedient. Not because obedience makes God happy, but rather the desire to be close to him will produce changes in you that will inevitably make you more healthy, and that makes God happy. There are so many people trapped in fear who don’t know how to be set free. God is needing those who understand the freedom of love to help set those captive free. Will you be one of those or will you continue to allow fear to control and dominate your life? “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" Isaiah 6:8.

Man’s Work VS. God’s Work


Mans Work

The best way to define “mans work” is when he gets it into his heart to set his own course for what he feels is right. He then starts setting up justifications for that course so as not to feel like he’s wrong in his ways. He also will frequently boast, if only to himself, of his Godly exploits, so as to convince himself that God too approves of his labors. He will shirk the responsibilities of true Godly work, as they require consecration, and he doesn’t much care for that notion. Where this becomes most treacherous though, is that he is thoroughly convinced he is completely in the will of God. So much so that he will even become disagreeable and angry with anyone who points out the flaws in his charter. For this man, his journey will be wrought with pain, and at times, even torment, because in the deepest parts of this man lies rebellion, and rebellion stands exactly opposite of the nature of God.

Gods Work

Godly work however is often path of loneliness. Most times, friends are scarcely found when this work is being done. Many a man wants little to do with the fires of that forge because the heat alone reminds them of there own need of a savior. This is where the justifications of, “needing to be like the world to win the world” is shed and the need to be made whole in the ways of Godliness enter him. The fear that’s brought on by the rejection of peers melts away as this man begins to care more for what God measures him by than what popular opinion would. The justifying phrase, “I’m not perfect and it’s ridiculous to ever think that I could be” is no longer used, because the meaning of true perfection is understood. Perfection being that which is made whole in God’s love, and then shared with compassion and mercy to all who God would bring you in contact with. This work is not for the faint of heart, but rather for the heart that has been made strong by deep desire. Desire to please God, to be close to him no matter the cost, and to be obedient in all things.

This mans path will also be difficult, but not for the same reason as the man who does his own work. The Godly man, like a trained soldier, will endure the hardships of trails arranged by God. Tests of patience, courage, and peace will lay in wait around many bends in his road. Not to punish or to beat him into submission as many men say of God, but rather to teach him the ways of humanity, and to shape his heart into that of love. This work can only be claimed by the man himself. No other man, nor even God himself, can set him on this path. It must be chosen freely, and the cost counted and willing to be paid in full. This path, the path of Godly work, it is the only path that will ever lead to peace.

The Fallen Soldier

God, in hopes to win back the heart of his fallen servant, will always send a faithful servant to give a warning and a promise. Many of those who have become slothful in heart have also become unwilling to take the message of repentance serious, thereby revealing a lack of their good character. In their hearts they have decided that the temporal things are more important than the blessings that God has in store for them. This is easy for many to do, as the unseen requires faith to obtain while the seen gives us instant gratification with little to no work. This is where Godly character is on trial because the slothful man is deciding between continuing on with man’s work, or picking up the responsibility of Gods work.

The Warning


If a man continues to ignore Gods offers, eventually, God will withdraw the offer and present it at a later time. But only after the man has been set on a path of hardships, teaching his character to be more God conscious. This path is full of thorns, thistles, and ditches. Many blessings that were received when he lived a Godly life will be robbed and stripped from him. Not because God is angry and no longer protects him, but because the end of, “that which seems right to a man” is always death.

“There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.” Proverbs 14:12

“Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith, without doubting, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:5-8