BECAUSE WE OWE HIM OBEDIENCE
I'e heard that all my Christian life. We ought to be obedient to Jesus. We owe Him that, for all He did for us, And it sounds sort of reasonable, too, like inviting a neighbor to a cookout Saturday because He came over and jumped off our dead battery Wednesday evening.
Sort of even the score.
Only trouble is, I've come to disagree with that whole idea. First of all, we could never "even the score". That would be impossible for us to do. But I guess it really started with John Piper's statement .. and I DO like John Piper ... that "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him". That sounds more like a wonderful relationship, a resting in Him as in none other ... than slavish obedience to rules and teaching and commandments penned all those years ago.
It finally hit me that maybe I should look at why He came down here to literally straighten us out, when I'm sure Heaven was as beautiful to Him as it will be to us,
Jesus, Himself, offered two explanations why, of which I am aware.
Incidentally, the picture over there is what anthropologists calculate Jesus' face really looked like which is quite different from the WASP-ish blue-eyed blonde we see in too many representations today. And it works wonderfully well in my heart, too. Amazingly well.
His reasons for coming:
Matthew and Luke report that He came to seek and save that which was lost. A-K-A you & me. If you're Christian, then mission accomplished!!
Then John, in his 10th Chapter, reports that Jesus came to provide us abundant life! Now, that verse always gave me pause, since everybody who hears it is already alive. So I figured He must mean something beyond have blood pressure and a pulse. So I looked up the word in some books that could tell me what it really means. And here's what I found:
God breathed life into Adam's nostrils. Life (chay ... living, alive...).
which is quite different from:
Jesus came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly. Life (zoe .. of the absolute fulness of life, both essential and ethical, which belongs to God, and through Him both to the hypostatic "logos" and to the Christ in whom the "logos" put on human nature")
What strike me about that is He used a word that describes a wonderful terrific life, and then said that we could have that more abundantly!
Think about the times you buy a gift for someone. Don't you want them to want what you got them? Isn't it a huge disappointment when they show disinterest in it, or demonstrate no appreciation?
If we desire that of our gifts, and from the folks we give them to, how much more do I imagine Jesus wants us to want abundant life!
So preachers who offer to send us on a journey of guilt, in which we try to "live up to" what Jesus described for us, know this: I've gotten off that bus!
Rather, I've joined the happy band that wants to live that abundant life Jesus came here, and subsequently died, to provide for us. I firmly believe that living that sort of life, happily, enthusiastically, is just the sort of thing Jesus wants shown to the world, and is what will attract more lost folks to Christianity than the normal guilt trip of fire & brimstone.
Ignore the commandments? Goodness no .. why would I want to do that? Look at them as the simple steps to an abundant life. Hey .. would Jesus make provision for abundance of life, without telling us how to obtain it?
Why would I want to do things which God has said aren't part of the "more abundant" life? Between Jesus' commands and His teachings .. both of which He said those who loved Him would observe ... we have the road map to a wonderful life.
And even that, more abundantly.