The Believer’s Struggle
In his book, “Think Like Jesus,” pollster George Barna tackles a formidable topic, “How do Christians develop a “biblical worldview” in a fallen world? But more than that, why is it important to do so? How is it possible to be “in this world but not of this world”? (John 17:14-15)
Our struggle with this dilemma is demonstrated by the world’s inability to see believers as being different from them. The world labels Christian beliefs as intolerant and antiquated. Because of that, we believers are often silent about our faith. The result? It is easier to “go along to get along.” The salt is no longer salty. The light has grown dim (Matt. 5:13-16).
Obedience and the Christian’s worldview
Barna offers several scriptural principles to guide us as we create a biblical worldview for our life. One of these principles is the importance of obedience to God. “Obedience is more than just following the letter of the law. It is discerning what God wants and choosing to seek that outcome.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season. It is a time when we can focus on self-examination and self-denial. It is also a great time to study this topic of obedience and answer the following questions:
What is obedience?
Why is it important in my faith walk?
How does obedience affect my “worldview”?
WIFM (What’s in it for me)?
What is obedience?
When you read or hear the word obedience, what comes to mind? If you are like me, you may instantly think of its opposite—disobedience. According to Webster, obedience is defined as submission to authority.
Operating with that definition, people immediately view obedience as harsh and demanding. Their response is understandably, resistance. Resistance is anchored in our human desire to control our destiny. For the unbeliever (and believer, too) this desire includes living independent of God’s rule in their life. This response, unfortunately, misses the true intent of godly obedience. That is why we need a biblical view of obedience.
In the Old Testament, obey is interpreted as to hear. It stresses not only hearing but also understanding. As God spoke through His revelation (His ways and works), His people were able to hear and understand His desire for them. (Jer. 29:11).
In the New Testament, obey is not only connected with hearing but also means to convince or to persuade. Obedience is described as an attitude (2 Cor. 2:9) and a faith-rooted disposition (Phil. 2:12).
We hear, we are persuaded, and in an attitude of faith, we obey. When we hear God speak to us (through His Spirit), our response should be to obey His instruction. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)
Obedience flows from the heart
The obedience of Jesus is held as the ultimate example for believers. Jesus heard God’s instruction and “humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:8) His obedience flowed out of His personal relationship with God—He heard and knew the Father. More importantly, Jesus’ obedience was connected to and motivated by love.
Obedience is the outward response of a heart that loves God. God’s call for obedience is a loving invitation to experience His best. Man’s response to God’s invitation is a heart that hears and turns to Him (Ps. 14:2).
Obedience, properly understood, is never a cold or impersonal command that arouses resentment. Our response of obedience should flow from a heart that hears God’s voice, feels God’s love, and turns to Him.
Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I believe in your commands.
Before I was afflicted, I went astray,
but now I obey your word.
Psalm 119:66-67 (NIV)