Obedience in Love
That was a banner which we first displayed at “In HIS Heartbeat” in October of 2018.
We often remind one another at Anoka Awakening that obedience and love are the two necessary components to all we do and are also the two parameters by which we will be judged. God highly values obedience above most anything else.
And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.”
1 Samuel 15:22
That verse tells us that God prefers our obedience to what He calls us to do rather than our sacrifices. Verse 22 on its own may suggest we have a choice between the good thing and the better thing of God’s desires for us. Verse 23, however, reveals that obedience is the only acceptable response as it spells out disobedience as sin.
“For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king.”
1 Samuel 15:23
King Saul confessed his sin, but it was too late for him to keep the throne. He may have received forgiveness for the sin he committed, but the outcome, the consequence, remained the same; Saul was removed from the position to which he had been called.
Whether leader, servant, and for every believer, the lesson is the same, no matter the call of God on our lives. Every believer is called to be a servant leader after the example of Christ Jesus. We are to do this in love. This was the command of Jesus; a call on each of our lives.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another.”
Jesus told this to the remaining disciples after Judas went out from the last supper. The command was meant for His followers. He instructed them to love one another. Jesus told them that this would be their identifying trait: not by loving the world or others in it, but by loving one another.
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
This has proven true multiple times at Pizza Man Church, for one example. The staff and other patrons see it as we gather. Loving one another impacts the atmosphere around us.
Jesus ties these two items together. They appear to be inseparable.
“As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
Jesus of Nazareth is the example we are to imitate. We are to do as He did; obedience in love. He takes joy in us as we do so, and we have joy as we do so. This is a joy that comes from intimacy with Him and the Father. Jesus then spells out the commandment again.
“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
Again, Jesus is our example to follow; to love as He loved. This love He speaks of is sacrificial. Laying down one’s life for the sake of someone else is to display sacrificial love. The other person or people may not even be aware of the sacrifice.
Jesus laid down His life through the work of the cross. There is no greater, ultimate sacrifice than what He did for all of humanity. Jesus also, however, laid down His life in the living of it. He did not seek position or stature in the church. He did not seek fame through entertaining others. He did not seek power in government or by manipulation, or by falsely puffing Himself up. He did not seek wealth in the marketplace.
Jesus took the gospel of salvation and the Kingdom of God to the people in humility and put the power of God on display as a sign that witnessed to His message. He led by example, showing his disciples, then, and us today, what it is to be a servant leader.
Back to the last supper, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples which was a lesson in humility, both His and theirs.
“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”
The washing of the feet was an example of humility in serving one another in love and doing what is needed. In obedience, we are to do what is asked of us. We are not greater than the Lord, so we ought not think we live some privileged life exempt from serving. Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve.
But Jesus called them to Him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and give His life as a ransom for many.”
Again, Jesus gave His life as a ransom on the cross. For this we need to be extremely thankful. We also need to see how He gave His life in the living of it. The disciples who were with Him witnessed and imitated that lifestyle. We are to do so as well.
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding Word of God;
1 Peter 1:22-23
Peter, like Jesus, shows that obedience and love go hand in hand. There are many messages and lessons that can be unpacked from this passage. For this message to disciples of Jesus Christ, having been born again, we are to earnestly love one another.
To earnestly love one another is to have sincere and intense love for each other. Are our motives sincere; free of deceit; genuine feelings? Are our actions intense; of extreme degree or strength; passionate? Have we purified our souls? How do we do that? Through obedience to the truth we purify our souls. And the reason for that obedience is to display a sincere brotherly love. Sincere in truth; nothing phony.
Meditating on these things reveals that the two, obedience and love, cannot be separated. Obedience is an act of love, and one cannot love and be disobedient to the commandments at the same time.
It is important to study scripture and learn the lessons so we can become all that God created us to be. Look around at the people in our lives. Who are the examples of living such a life? We also need to look within ourselves. Are we the examples for those within our spheres of influence?
Paul the Apostle, speaking of the history of the Israelites, tells us why we have scriptures that give historical examples.
Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
1 Corinthians 10:11-12
Therefore, let each of us take a sober inventory of what our life is about and how we are, or are not, laying it down in obedience for the love of one another. What is my life teaching? What lessons are being taught by it? What level of obedience am I walking in? What do my actions and behaviors reflect of the sincerity and passion of my love for my brothers and sisters in Christ? Is my desire to serve or to be served?
Our day of judgment hinges on the honest answers to these questions.