Ephesians 6:1-3 | Romans 13:1 | 1 Peter 2:21

It’s almost a dirty word these days…

Obedience. Seriously, say it a few times. How does it make you feel? Like a champion? Or like a kindergartener?

Type the word in a search engine and you will find entries in three main categories: 1) psychology, 2) pet training, and 3) religion. In the first case, the question is: “Why do people follow orders and do things they would not do otherwise?” In the second, “How do I make my dog sit when I say so?” And in the third, “How can I get myself to do what I know is right?”

The only thing less attractive in modern society than obedience is the concept of “blind obedience,” a sort of selfless, almost zombie-like compliance with whatever orders your superior gives.

That said, let’s clarify: “blind obedience” is not cool. You do not need to comply without any thought to what you are doing or why you are doing it.

God tells us to obey our parents because it is the right thing to do, and it will bring us good things.

Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”

(Ephesians 6:1-3 NLT)

Do you want things to go well for you? Honor your father and mother by obeying them.

But obedience can go beyond just your parents. Sometimes you have to obey a teacher. Or a police officer. Or a law. What does God say about them?

Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.

(Romans 13:1 NLT)

Submitting means putting your desires lower than someone else’s. To do so, you have to trust that the ‘someone else’ in question has your best interest in mind. The Apostle Paul here says that God puts those authorities in place. Do you trust that God loves you? Submit to authority.

Is there a time for civil disobedience? Yes–there may be times when being obedient to God will put us at odds with other authorities. Remember the words of the apostles:

But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority.”

(Acts 5:29)

A word of caution, though, about civil disobedience: consider it prayerfully. You can easily end up more wrong than what you are protesting.

For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

(1 Peter 2:21 NLT)

Above all, remember this: God loves you and sees your heart. He will not leave you or forsake you, and you honor him when you trust him enough to obey those who have authority over you.

Questions for Group Discussion

  • What do you think of when you hear the word “Obey?”
  • What does it mean to obey or be obedient? If you need to, check your answer against a dictionary.
  • When do you find it difficult to obey? Are there people who are hard for you to obey? What about them makes it so? Are there times when it is harder for you to obey?
  • Are obedience and respect related? Can you obey someone you do not respect?
  • Are obedience and trust related? Can you obey someone you do not trust?
  • Why do you think it is important to obey God’s commands? How do we know God’s commands? Are there more than the Ten Commandments?

Picture of Jesus: Application

Here is an artistic endeavor that you will find delightfully optional…

If you choose to participate, do this:

  • Read 1 Peter 2:13-25. It’s all about obedience.
  • Draw a ‘poster’ illustrating Jesus in verses 22-25.
  • Submit a photo of your poster below!