Reading Philippians 2:5-11 has me in awe of Jesus and particularly has me musing about obedience. Scripture records of Jesus that;
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:8)
Jesus was obedient to the point of death. Why? If you think about it most obedience has a limit to it. In fact how we react in situations requiring obedience is impacted by what is being asked of us and by whom it’s being asked.
We will gladly obey the command to come for supper where as; ‘take out the trash please’ might be more of the mental wrestling match.
So why do we obey? And is all obedience the same?
And if not how does the motivation for our obedience change it?
Obedience is compliance with an order or the command of someone else. However obedience is still a choice, we choose to obey or disobey. There is a point however, at which internal resistance to willing obedience kicks in causing one to then maybe defy or disobey the instruction or command.
On a social level civil disobedience occurs when a group of people or an individual no longer regard the authority of the state as being legitimate for some reason and that is the trigger for actions they display disobedience as a form of protest.
On an individual level the authority of the person or organization and the threat of potential consequences for disobedience both have some bearing on the decision to obey under compulsion or to do so willfully or to disobey.
So if some random person in the traffic gives you a command it is likely that one would feel little compulsion to obey. However, if you live in a totalitarian state with notoriously ruthless secret police you most likely will feel a greater compulsion to comply.
So there are clearly different types of obedience, willful obedience and obedience that despite still being a choice is a constrained choice. A choice out of fear or a consideration of the consequences disobedience might incur.
Willing obedience is most likely when your own desires align with the person giving the commandment – like in the call to my sons to come for supper! Because such a command aligns with the internal desire for supper, obedience is easy.
But there is another reason for willing obedience – wanting to demonstrate your love or respect for the person making the command. In such circumstances your willing obedience communicates something of your relationship to that person, it is the evidence of your love and or respect for them.
For all types of obedience an alignment with your own desires makes obedience easier but for all types of obedience the level of personal cost attached to your obedience is also a factor. Obedience that requires a sacrifice or huge effort or pain even if willing and motivated by love and respect is harder than obedience that doesn’t have much personal cost.
All of this musing was brought on by the words of Philippians 2:8 where it’s recorded that Jesus was obedient to the point of death. Jesus wasn’t under compulsion, Jesus was free and sovereign but He humbled Himself and when the Father asked Him to sacrifice Himself for our sin, He obeyed the will of the Father. And why? Why did Jesus willingly obey and was it willing?
Well we know it was willing, because Jesus Himself prayed in the garden of Gethsemane essentially; ‘Father not my will but Yours be done’. Jesus obeyed our of love for the Father – incredible! And Jesus’ obedience wasn’t just an alignment of desires but obedience at the highest cost imaginable – to the point of willing death. Jesus did all this out of love for the Father and then also out of love for you and I.
Jesus my amazing wonderful Saviour!