Why should we obey God?
Why should we follow Jesus – his example and his teachings?
These are important questions for anyone to address; and since various people approach these questions from various perspectives, it’s important to consider the different ways these questions can be answered.
One interesting approach is found in this excerpt from Tim Keller’s excellent book Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical…
As we follow God’s will out of an inner desire to love our redeemer, we increasingly come to sense that we are also becoming who we were designed to be by our creator.
Imagine that you see a car being driven down the road. You look into it and see there is a five-year-old driving it. What will happen? It will be disintegration of some sort – the car is going to run into somebody, run into a tree, or destroy a fence. Why? Because although it is a good car, it is not designed to be driven by a five-year-old. When God says, “Here are the Commandments, the moral directives: Don’t lie, don’t be selfish, don’t bear false witness,” those directives come from your designer. And therefore they aren’t busywork. To break them is to violate your own nature and to lose freedom, just like a person who eats the wrong foods and ends up in a hospital.
For example, the Bible says: Don’t bear a grudge. Many years ago I was talking to a teenage girl in my church who was angry at her father for a number of very warranted reasons. She said, “I know that God says I have to forgive, but I don’t want to.” I began by agreeing that God requires forgiveness of his followers. “But,” I said, “I want you to consider that God is our creator, and so his commands are never meaningless or arbitrary ‘busywork.’ His obligations are always in the end our liberation.” If her father succeeded in making her bitter toward him, it would mean he would continue to shape and control her life. It would, perhaps, distort her view of men in general, it would make her more hard and cynical, and it might have many other effects. I said, “The best way to be free, to ensure that the wrong he has done to you does the least damage, is to forgive him.” She later told me that the conversation had been a turning point for her.
If you are made in the image of God, who is a forgiver, then it is a directive – you must forgive. In the short run it can feel good to be angry at somebody who has wronged you, or to pay them back. But in the long run what is going to happen? Disintegration. It can hurt your body to be angry. It can certainly hurt all your relationships, making it harder to trust and commit. It can distort your whole life. Why? Because when you are disobeying a moral directive from God, you are going against the grain of your own nature, against the grain of the universe. You are like a five-year-old trying to drive a car, and it will not work. But when you begin to obey, you are “living into” your own design rather than working against it.
Like many of you reading this, Keller’s point highlights one of the reasons why I choose to obey God. I obey, on one hand, simply because He is God/Creator and I am not. On the other hand, I obey because I have learned – often as a result of my disobedience – that life goes better when I trust God and commit my ways to his ways. Contrary to what many skeptics of Christianity claim, I do not obey God because I am a simpleton who blindly trusts God without any logical rationale. Rather, I am a conscientious thinker who has critiqued the ways of the world and the ways of Christ, and the way of Christ makes more sense. Plus, it works much better.
That’s because when you and I choose to follow Christ, we are living our lives the way they were designed to be lived.
So, live into your design.