The Importance of Obedience
We are an easily distracted people. Maybe you remember the movie Up from when you were a kid, and the dog who was continually distracted by squirrels. If you’ve never seen that movie, think back to the most recent time you tried to study for a big exam or write a research paper. Remember how every little thing would pull your attention away from what you were trying to accomplish? The same is true in our relationship with God: we are easily distracted.
The next several years of your life in college will bring more distraction than you’ve experienced before. It’s in those moments of distraction that we can find ourselves in compromising situations and most susceptible to sin. Remember that sin only brings destruction and leads to more sin, which takes us away from an abundant life. So, if sin takes us away from the abundant life Jesus means for us to have, then the opposite action must lead us toward the abundant life: following Jesus and living in obedience to Him.
Throughout the Bible we see God commanding His people to obey Him. It is a pervasive theme throughout the Old Testament as we follow the storyline of God’s people and how God was orchestrating His plan to reconcile His people to Himself through Jesus. Then, as Jesus enters the world, we continue to see the command for the people of God to obey Him. In John 14:15 Jesus says plainly, “If you love me, you will keep my commands.” We see similar commands in John 14:23, 1 John 5:2, 1 Peter 2:9, Luke 11:28, 2 John 1:6, and a host of others. The Bible is clear: if someone loves Him, follows Him, has been reconciled to Him, has been saved by Him (and so on), then that person will obey God.
You may be thinking at this point, Obeying Jesus all the time doesn’t sound like abundant life. In fact, it sounds very restricting, and abundant life is all about freedom. You’re right—there are restrictions placed on us by Jesus. But here’s the thing: we all have restrictions placed on us by whatever we love most.
If what you love most is excelling in your education so you can get a great job, you’ll have to spend extra time in the library and be restricted from hanging out with your friends. If what you love most is achieving status and popularity, you’ll have to spend extra time hanging out with friends and be restricted from that extra time studying. If you’re an athlete and what you love most is being the best player on your team, your diet, exercise, and sleep will have to be rigorous, and will restrict you in other ways.
Following Jesus is no different, except for one thing: the restrictions that Jesus gives us actually bring more freedom. How is this possible? All the other things we love are created, so the restrictions they place on us are from one created thing to another. School and status and sports don’t know what’s best for us. But the restrictions God places on us are from our Creator, and He does know what is best for us. As Timothy Keller puts it, God’s “directives are from your designer. And therefore they aren’t busywork. To break them is to violate your own nature and to lose freedom, just like a person who eats the wrong foods and ends up in a hospital.”
You need to know that your obedience to God through His Word is important, and as a follower of Jesus, you should be continually growing in obedience to Him. This isn’t always easy and it doesn’t happen right away. We must learn to obey God, just like we would learn to do anything else in our lives, and the great news for you is that God has provided the way for you to grow in your obedience to Him.
This was an excerpt from Brian and Ben’s new book A Different College Experience: Following Christ in College that was released this month!
Brian Mills was a youth pastor for 15 years leading ministries as large as 2000 students. He has planted campuses, preaches in churches all over the country and leads a college ministry of over 1000 college students from the University of Arkansas. Brian has a heart to share the gospel and disciple others weekly. He loves the local church and is committed to pouring his life into Pastoring.
Ben Trueblood serves as director of Student Ministry for LifeWay Christian Resources. He has twenty years of student ministry experience, thirteen of which were spent in the local church as a student pastor. Ben is the author of Student Ministry that Matters and is involved in training, consulting, and speaking to student ministries across the United States. Ben and his wife Kristen have four children: Jonathan, Avery, Josiah, and Adrienne.