This is an area of the Gospel message that can quickly get us off track.
We love lists, because we think if we have a list to follow we are in are in control. The problem with most “lists” we find in the Bible is we cannot live up to them. They’re impossible for us to keep. And that’s the point – we cannot keep them. They represent God’s Law – His perfect standard.
Those who have put their trust in Jesus recognized this truth when they accepted that they could not earn salvation. However, it’s not long before we return to attempting to earn our ongoing relationship with God.
This is not new. The Apostle Paul addressed this very tendency in his letter to the Galatians – “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”
The word translated as “flesh” can also be translated “human effort.” Paul is saying that it’s foolishness to think that although you began your relationship with God by the work of His Spirit in your life (and not by your effort!), that now it all reverts back to your effort to keep this relationship with God.
But what about all the verses about obedience?
It is essential that we understand we are not saved by good works, but for good works.
We also must know that our obedience is not to earn God’s love, but flows out of the realization that we are already fully and unconditionally loved by God. It’s out of the overflow of God’s love for us that we are able to respond.
So, how do we respond?
Jesus brought all of it down to two relationships – we love God and we love the people around us.
What does love look like? Well, it will be unique for each of us. God has gifted us all in different ways. We all have different life experiences, and these experiences put us in a unique position to love differently.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.”
Romans 12:1-2 MSG
Jesus said it this way, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30 MSG
So, yes, we obey – we go! We go about our ordinary every day lives in the unforced rhythms of grace, and live out the great privilege we’ve been given of loving God and the people around us as we go.
What does this look like in your life?
How does this look in community with others?
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