John writes in his second letter, “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love” (1:6).
The harder part in today’s world is figuring out what love means, more so than obedience.
Obedience is stressed in our culture.
Love is far more neglected.
In Luke 23:56, we read that Jesus’ followers rested on the Sabbath, even though they were prepared to put spices and perfumes on his crucified body.
I’ve been taught on several occasions that of the ten commandments, the only one which no longer applies is the command to rest on the Sabbath.
But our economy seems to be built upon building and selling more and more in less and less time.
Even teaching is now labeled a way to “win the future,” whatever that means!
I feel the external pressure to be always creating, always working, always improving.
I sense that, at least for me, developing the discipline of observing a weekly sabbath to honor God would be a positive step.
But I wonder what this will look like.
When I googled “sabbath” the most common discussion seemed to be arguments about what day of the week should be considered the Sabbath. I don’t really care and don’t think it matters much.
What was helpful was the concept that Jews reckon a day from sundown to sundown. I will define my sabbath rest from sundown on Saturday through sundown on Sunday.
My goal will be to finish all of my schoolwork during the day on Saturday. Saturday evening through Sunday evening will be my rest from work (except for Sunday morning volunteering at church). If I do procrastinate or have too much work to complete, then I’ll still have Sunday night for last-minute work.
I’ll experiment with this until spring break. I don’t want a spiritual discipline to do nothing but make me feel guilty. But I think that this may become an energizing pattern, not a negative one. We’ll see…
The Bible correlates obedience to God with prosperity many times, in the Old Testament, including: Deuteronomy 5, Deuteronomy 30, 1 Kings 2, 1 Kings 3, 1 Kings 11, 2 Chronicles 31, Jeremiah 7, Zechariah 3.
However, the term obedience is not correlated to prosperity in the New Testament.
Why the change?
In Deuteronomy 5:33, Moses writes, “Walk in obedience to all that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.”
How does this apply to today’s world? It seems that striving for personal holiness can become selfish and hollow, but striving for social justice can generate sinful feelings of superiority.
Perhaps if our first impuse is obedience to Jesus and the Spirit, not a desire to please other people or ourselves, then we’re on the path toward godly, biblical obedience.
The first appearance of the word obedience in the NIV is Genesis 49:10.
The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he to whom it belongs shall come
and the obedience of the nations shall be his.
We read here about Jesus, the “Lion of Judah,” holding his scepter–an ancient symbol of royal authority.
Eventually, “the obedience of the nations” will belong to him.