December 14, 2018
God’s Desire: Relationship or Obedience?
Yesterday, we discussed what God desires from us. Today I want to be more specific. So if I gave you a choice between the following two kids, which one would you want for your child?
“Straight-A Jane,” who from the outside, is the model child. She completes her chores perfectly, submits homework on time, gets straight A’s, and never breaks curfew. She’s courteous and polite, well-mannered and respectful, and follows all the rules. BUT, she doesn’t really like you. It really doesn’t matter to her if you feel down. She isn’t interested in spending time with you or finding out more about you. She does everything you ask of her, but really dislikes you. She can’t wait to leave home when she turns 18.
Your other daughter, “Absent-Minded Mindy,” on the contrary, is rough around the edges. She needs reminders for chores and homework, and her grades are C’s and B’s. She’s forgetful and ill mannered at times. BUT, she loves you and cares about you. She celebrates when you’re happy and is sad when you hurt. She wants to spend time with you. She’s interested in how you tick, your interests and your dreams. She enjoys going on errands with you, asking and seriously processing your opinions on important aspects of her life.
No-brainer, right? We all would really enjoy the connection and growth with Mindy rather than the cold wall and no relationship with Jane. Well, sometimes we are caught up thinking God is more interested in our obedience to Him rather than our relationship with Him. Sure, He wants both if we can offer it. But if He could only have one, He would yearn for our relationship with Him more than our obedience. Here’s an easy example: think of the criminal on the cross who had a significant track record of disobedience but believed in and wanted to be with Him. God rewarded him eternally. Think about Mary and Martha. Jesus praised Mary’s pursuit of relationship and corrected Martha’s obedient pursuit of chores.
Satan’s system, our flesh and our baggage are always pushing us into a work-based system for approval. In that system we would win God’s approval and then He would want to have relationship with us. The truth is really the other way around. Despite our track record of disobedience, He pursues us like the father of the prodigal son, because He so loved the world He sacrificed His only Son.
Today, when you feel the pressure of a situation, stop and do a short assessment. Are you pursuing performance or connecting with God? You will be amazed how much difference this little but powerful cut-to-the-core question will make in accessing God’s amazing peace in the midst of trials. Look at how much of your day is spent in dutiful obedience and how much is spent building and growing a relationship with your Heavenly Father. When you shift the scales so that pursuit of relationship outweighs obedience, you will realize that you actually become more obedient to God and His instruction. Whether you pursue relationship over obedience or you prioritize obedience over relationship is your decision, so choose well.
O God, Thanks for desiring relationship with me even before I learn how to be obedient to You. If it was the other way around and I needed to be cleaned up before I was worthy enough for You, I would be eternally damned. Help me not to fall into our world’s mentality of pursuing your approval instead of pursuing You. Once I learn to be close to You, the rest will take care of itself. I pray in the name of the One who binds me to You in relationship, Jesus Christ. And all God’s children say AMEN!
“And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.’ Luke 10:39-42
“One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, ‘Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.’ And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’” Luke 23:39-43