Love = Obedience

John-14-15-In-You-Love-Me-You-Will-Keep-My-Commandments-gold-copy

by John Ellis

As a child, obedience was a pragmatic activity for me. Navigating the tension between my desires and the possible punishment if I got caught fulfilling my desires, my decision to obey or not was rooted in a cost/benefit analysis. If the reward from my desire was greater than the risk of the punishment, obedience was jettisoned. On the other hand, if the reward was less than the risk, I was an obedient child. Not to mention the many times in which obedience enabled me to do what I wanted. As an example of how my pragmatic obedience worked, refusing to sing Patch the Pirate’s song “Obedience” with the rest of the students brought with it punishment not worth the reward of not singing. So, I dutifully sang the lyrics “obedience is the very best way to show that you believe” many times throughout my childhood.

It’s only as an adult that I get the irony.

My childhood’s pragmatic hypocrisy aside, is the song correct? Is it true that “obedience is the very best way to show that [we] believe?”

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What the World Needs

crucifixion-1by John Ellis

King Jesus said a lot of things during his time on earth. Thankfully, some of those things were written down[1], including one of King Jesus’ final commands to His people, the Church. Shortly before returning to Heaven, King Jesus admonished the Church to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”[2].

Throughout its entire two-thousand year history, the Church has understood that command, often referred to as “The Great Commission,” as a directive to preach the Gospel and make disciples whose lives conform to the Gospel. And the Gospel has historically been defined as the good news that even though humans are ethically estranged from God because of their personal sins, Jesus Christ became human in order to live the perfect life that no other human is capable of living, die on the cross as punishment for sins that He did not commit, and then, by the power of the Holy Spirit, rise from the dead, defeating sin and death. If a human, with Holy Spirit given faith and repentance, places his or her entire hope in the life, death, and resurrection of King Jesus, the ethical breach is bridged and he or she is placed in God’s family through Jesus Christ. That’s the Gospel. That’s the content of the Great Commission.

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