March 29, 2009: Obedience is Not a Naughty Word!

Let us pray: Dear Savior, in our topsy-turvy world of political correctness, we have been taught that certain words are very, very bad. We have been taught that submission to another negates our personal will and makes us a lesser person. We have been taught that obedience crimps our style. Today teach us the true meaning of those concepts. Show us exactly how liberating they are. And reveal to us how they find their fullest meaning in and through You. Amen


TEXT: Hebrews 5: 7-9

Fellow Redeemed Sinners:

The disconnect is fascinating to observe. On the one hand, you have Americans turning into sheepeoples when it comes to our government. The mountain of laws and regulations that we now live under and that control literally every aspect of our lives are accepted because: Uncle Sam knows best. Concepts of personal responsibility and individualism are being negated in favor of a collectivist model—obey the nanny state, or else! And generally people just accept it and go along with it, albeit grudgingly. On the other hand, when God’s Church speaks of submitting to His will and obeying His Godly Laws out of love and respect for Him, people rise up and get angry. When you think of it that way, it’s quite illogical. But, I suppose it stems from a feeling of being powerless against what we can see (government) and taking out that sense of powerlessness against what we cannot see (God).

Did you know that in the New Testament the Greek word for “obedience” is used 30 times? That word means: “obey, be subject to; accept.” About half the time it refers to Christians and how we are to accept and obey God and His Divine order of things. The other half of the time, it refers to Jesus and how He accepted and obeyed His Father in working out our salvation. Also, there are two controlling impulses behind any kind of obedience. One is obvious: law. Either God’s Law or man’s law. That is, you obey because you don’t want to experience nasty consequences. Or, you obey because you love, honor, and respect another. Christian obedience stems from the later. Christian obedience is born of love. And thus, in God’s Church:



Our lesson today stresses just how profound and love-filled the whole concept of Christian obedience really is. The writer to the Hebrews begins this way: “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions (mini-prayers) with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.”

Note well how Christian obedience is coupled along with reverent submission. Reverent means extra special. And the most extra special thing any of us can ever experience is love. Not conditional love. Not “I’ll be your buddy if you help pay my mortgage.” Not “I’ll be your friend for life if you watch my kids while I run errands.” No, true love is just helping others because you really do care for them and don’t expect something in return. Real love is never dependent upon a pay-back.

When Jesus was in Gethsemane, He prayed to His Father to spare Him of the anguish of the trial and the cross. “If it is possible, remove this cup of suffering from me.” Tears flowed from His eyes.—He knew what awaited. Blood was sweated out.—He knew the pain that was to come. And yet, in Gethsemane, Christ reverently submitted to His Father’s will when it came to working out our salvation. He didn’t seek to impose His will upon His Father. Even though Jesus’ flesh was like ours and shied away from pain and suffering, He didn’t let His flesh dictate His future. When Jesus ended His prayer with: “Nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done” He did so out of love and total respect for His heavenly Father. And that, my friends, that depth of love, caused Him to save your soul and mine.


The writer goes on: “Although he was a son (highly loved and most special to His Father), he learned obedience from what he suffered and once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”
Do truly loving fathers ever wish evil upon their children? Do truly loving fathers inflict pain and suffering upon their children just because they can? Of course not! Likewise, children know when they are truly loved. Even when dad sends them out to work hard, sweat, and get sore muscles, they know down deep that it’s all meant for their good. That’s because love still reigns in the relationship. And in this maturation process, the child grows in understanding that love all the more. They obey, not simply out of fear, but out of respect. Their obedience is a form of their reciprocating love in action.

Jesus was God’s eternal Son. He was also genuine human flesh. And unlike our flesh which sometimes rebels against authority, Jesus didn’t! He willingly went to the cross to pay for our rebellious ways against His Father. He went there because He respected His Father’s love for us. Yes, He loved His Holy Father for loving us and punishing Christ for our sins. Wow! Moreover, it was that kind of perfect love, sacrificial love, that has made us right with God and obliterated any and all guilt we have when it comes to exerting our pride and practicing disobedience to His holy will. Or, as our lesson says: “Thereby He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

Let’s go back to this sermon’s introduction. Notwithstanding the guilt trip that the prophets of political correctness seek to impose on people today, no person likes to be told to: obey. No one likes to be told to: submit. For natural man, obedience is a naughty word whether it comes from government or from God. And people will only grudgingly accept such pronouncements for fear over the consequences if they don’t. However, God doesn’t want His people to merely go through the motions of life and give Him outward obedience. No, God wants our whole hearts. He wants our love and respect. And His Son Jesus earned that love and respect for us by willingly dying on Calvary’s cross. Scripture says: “God is love.” So, if God exists, and He does, love must ultimately triumph and rule. Love and obedience are intertwined in Christ. And He proved in saving our souls that: Obedience is not a naughty word. Amen