By Alex Florez
Obedience is a critical element in our journey of faith. I would guess, however, that obedience is a word that makes most adult Christians—perhaps men in particular—a bit uncomfortable. Isn’t our society built upon the notion that we’re free individuals, at liberty to pursue whatever ends we desire, by any means necessary, so long as we don’t infringe upon another person’s safety, freedom, or security? Sure, we follow laws, either implicitly or explicitly, to avoid punishment. Of course, we acquiesce to social norms that tacitly guide our public behavior. But when I entertain the idea of being obedient to anyone other than myself, my muscles tense, and I grit my teeth.
As a follower of Jesus, I recognize great tension between my tendency to buck under even the suggestion of human authority and my calling to submit fully to the authority of God. I, as a man, perceive myself to be completely sovereign in my quotidian affairs and, simultaneously, at the mercy of God, at least philosophically. As such, my propensity to resist authority presents a serious challenge to the way I approach the throne of Jesus.
I wonder what went through Joshua’s mind, and the minds of his soldiers, as they faced one mighty enemy after another. How hard it must have been to obey God’s command to march into battle! Frankly, I’m not sure how I would handle such an order, especially since I struggle with obedience in my own life of relative safety. And yet, what the Lord asks of Joshua and his men, and what He asks of you and me, is complete obedience, in clear terms that leave little room for interpretation: “Follow the LORD’s command—see that you do as I have ordered you” (Joshua 8:8).
From Genesis to Revelation, God commands us to trust Him enough to follow Him, even into uncertain and dangerous territory. In so doing, we discover an ever-deepening love for Him. This burgeoning love, in turn, engenders more trust and strengthens our faith. The more confident our faith, the more secure we become in following Him further along the road of sanctification. Relationship with Jesus is progressive, and obedience is an essential catalyst.
You may not face an army in a hostile city. You may not have anything on your plate today more dangerous than your drive to work. But what God requires of you is obedience, and this is not without reward. When we obey the Lord, He inevitably demonstrates that He is completely worthy of our trust. He builds our capacity to recommit ourselves to His commands each day. For all God’s children—warriors and the rest of us—the Lord’s command is to love Him with all our hearts, to trust Him, and to follow Him. And as we follow Him, we will see how the daily discipline of obedience grows in us greater power and freedom—far more than we ever could’ve manufactured living in our own strength or as the highest authority in our own lives.