The Way of Obedience
Henry Blackaby in the workbook Experiencing God wrote:
God's commands are designed to guide you to life's very best. You will not obey Him, however, if you do not believe Him and trust Him. You cannot believe Him if you do not love Him. You cannot love Him unless you know Him (p. 63).
The road we are to travel is the road of obedience.
This quest to become the people God created us to be begins with our knowledge of who God is. We cannot love, trust, and obey God unless we first know Him. Knowledge is the foundation of faith. This is what the apostle Paul meant when he wrote:
But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news! (Romans 10:14-15; ESV)
Without a knowledge of God it is impossible to have faith. And what is faith? This is the definition that I use: Faith is the combination of trust and action which is demonstrated by our obedience. Without faith there is no true obedience.
The great biblical example of faith is Abraham. In the land of Ur Abraham heard the call of God. How well did Abraham know God at this point in his life? I know that it has been suggested that at this time Abraham may have worshiped other gods rather than being a worshiper of the One True God. Blackaby in Created to be God's Friend makes this point; "To our knowledge, Abram was not seeking God; God was seeking him" (p. 16). In other words the beginning of this journey is actually found in God's desire to have a relationship with us and not in our desire to have a relationship with Him.
The revelation of God, found primarily in the Bible, provides us with the initial knowledge that we need to trust God and obey Him. This revelation provides us with enough knowledge to make that first step of faith, and as we continue to trust and obey God with our lives we begin to develop a deeper trust in Him.
The relationship Abraham had with God at the beginning was not very strong. Abraham knew God well enough to trust God to lead him to the Promised Land, but based on the biblical account we know that there were other areas of His life that Abraham did not trust God. With time and experience Abraham learned to trust and love God like few people in history have. At the end of his life Abraham knew God a whole lot better than he did when he first left Ur to follow God into the unknown.
The apostle John talks about the relationship between obedience and a relationship with God:
And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says I know him but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1 John 2:3-6; ESV)
The only way to know God and thus become the people God created us to be is to obey God. There is no other way that will happen. We can spend time talking about purpose and goals and self-improvement techniques, but if we don't turn to the Life-Maker we will miss out on life.
Since God is the Life-Maker He alone knows what brings purpose, meaning, and joy into our lives. As God's creation it is essential that we look to Him for the directions we need for life. Part of those instructions are found in the Bible. As we begin this journey to become the people God created us to be we need to rely heavily on the wisdom we discover on the pages of Scripture. As we mature and gain experience with God we will begin to rely on prayer and other Christians to provide the wisdom that we need to discern God's will for our lives. As we surrender our lives to God's will in obedience we begin to catch glimpses of the person God created us to be.
It is by traveling the road of obedience we not only discover who we are, but we also begin to discover more about who God is. Only as we obey God do we begin to experience Him at work in the world around us as He transforms our hearts. It is this experience which helps us understand God's heart and thus we are brought a little closer to Him.