Jesus statements often haunt me. Particularly "If you love me, you will obey what I command" (John 14:15). Not should, might, or may. Will. Why was that word so definite? Because loving Jesus means loving his life, loving what he wants us to become. Realizing that comprises the heart of a loving relationship: he is both Savior and Lord. The reverse seems obvious--if we have no desire to obey Jesus, we can claim no real love for him.
Obviously, the best option involves joyful obedience, when we commit ourselves to consistently obey Jesus, regardless of what we risk. Love means to sacrifice, and loving Jesus can bring significant ones. Deep lovers obey with a smile.
And, the worst option is one few readers of Unconventional would consistently choose--we at least have some desire to know him. But this option can include those who say they love Jesus, yet have no desire to obey (please see Matthew 7:21-23).
Reluctant obedience depicts much of our lives. We're all still in process, an imperfect one with fits and starts, with peaks and valleys. We do love Jesus, and we want to obey, but we also want to obey our own desires. We want the easy way. We acknowledge him as wiser than we, we accept him as Lord along with Savior, but...
Let me suggest that the noun holds more importance than the adjective (for non-English teachers, obedience is the noun, reluctant the adjective). Jonah is a good example. His Lord told him, a prophet, to take a land journey to Nineveh, the capital city of Israel's enemy. Like many of us would do, he headed in the opposite direction, by sea. He didn't particularly care to tell the Ninevites to repent. He preferred them dead; God wanted them changed. You likely know the story, he got tossed overboard, a great fish (not necessarily a whale, as the above pic shows) swallowed him, and Jonah changed his mind. But here's the often unmentioned key: he stayed down in the dark belly of the beast for three days before agreeing to obey. Doesn't that sound like very reluctant obedience? Doesn't that sound a bit like you? I know it sounds a lot like me.
But, in the end, he obeyed. Wasn't that, eventually, Jesus' standard of love? Of course, he could have avoided some real trouble if he responded with joyful obedience. But like us, he didn't.
Kick Starting the Application
Do you have some areas of disobedience? Why do you hold on to them? Do you have some areas of reluctant obedience? Have you paid some kind of price for the reluctance? Did you gain something from the eventual obedience? What makes you reluctant to obey joyfully? How can you make some changes?