I am convinced more and more that God never wanted obedience apart from devotion. To clarify, obedience without devotion is better than all-out rebellion, but what He really wants is love-driven obedience that flows from a heart actually in love with Him.
You can obey God without really loving Him, but it will be external and you will always struggle with the inner reality of rebellion, cynicism/sarcasm, anxiety, striving, guilt, shame, and doubt in your heart.
OR you can come to terms with the fact that you CAN’T, no matter how hard you try, live consistently for God without Him. Stop trying to serve God without Him. Instead of trying harder, yield. Instead of going higher in your goals, go lower. Instead of resolutions to do better, do less. Resolve to only sit at the feet of Jesus until you Remember.
Remember your first love, Bride of Christ.
Obedience and submission is ideally the response of a person in love. (Jeremiah 2:2, Ephesians 5:21)
It really comes down to this…
If we don’t obey God, it’s only because we don’t love Him enough.
If we don’t love Him enough, it’s only because we don’t really know Him.
If we don’t really know Him, it’s only because we don’t spend time at His feet listening to Him.
If we don’t spend time listening at His feet, it’s because we have not actively chosen to do the one thing necessary for life.
...but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42
She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. Luke 10:39
If we have not chosen to do the one necessary thing for life, it’s because we don’t think we actually need it. We think we can obey Him without intimately knowing Him and hearing Him speak to us by the power of the Holy Spirit.
But at some point we encounter this truth–
You CAN obey without loving. I see Christians do it every day. We treat the Bible like a law book and we try to follow every command. But without love, obedience will not last. That’s why so many of us are frustrated.
The law of the Spirit puts an end to this “dead Christianity.” Because the Holy Spirit is God’s love poured into us (Romans 5:5). His faithfulness enables our faithfulness. We obey because we love Him.
You can obey without loving, but you cannot love God without obeying Him, because His love is so intimately beautiful, that when He wins our heart, obedience is the natural byproduct. We only are able to say no to sin when God becomes our highest joy…and He retains that place in our hearts EVERY SINGLE DAY, MOMENT BY MOMENT. So our need for God only increases. And so does our love.
Grammatically, in the Greek, we can read it this way, “If/When you love me, my commandments you will keep.” John 14:15
One prescription for a greater love for God:
One Thing Necessary. Every Day.