What Does God Require?

A Christmas devotional I read ended with a prayer for humility to remember God doesn’t owe us an explanation when he requires our obedience. An alarm went off in my head. Does he really require our obedience? And what happens when we fail?

For most of my life, I thought the most important thing to God was his law and the one thing he most wanted from me was obedience. I put a lot of energy into obeying God’s law and doing it to the best of my ability. The problem was that I knew I wasn’t obeying perfectly, and I often felt guilty. I even wondered if my eternal life might be in danger.

God does want our obedience, but he knows we aren’t capable of it. Jesus was the only perfectly obedient human being and his obedience had its source in the mutual love of the Trinity. Through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, we come to recognize and accept God’s self-sacrificing, self-emptying love. As we grow in Christ, his great love turns our hearts to him, and they become synced to his. He shares his obedience with us, and it becomes ours.

God doesn’t place requirements on our lives. What he wants is relationship, a relationship he has invited us into, in his Son, through the Spirit. He provides all we need to be, stay and thrive in that relationship.

Happy New Year!

God calls us righteous

“Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins” (Romans 3:24, NLT).

Ever since Moses brought the Ten Commandments down from Mt. Sinai, people have been trying to out-obey one another. It seems part of our psyche to believe the better we obey and the more we do for God, the more righteous we’ll become and the happier he’ll be with us. God does value obedience but not for the reasons many think. And no amount of law keeping will get anyone to heaven.

God is pretty smart and he knows us. He knew we would worship obedience more than him, and he knew it would be impossible for us obey all the laws. Being saved by faith in Jesus alone was not something he cooked up in response to humans messing up. The law was never meant to save us, rather the undeserved kindness of God, through the grace of Jesus, has freed us from trying to be obedient, from competing and comparing, from worrying about measuring up, and wonderfully, from the penalties and consequences of our sins. How can we help but love him more in response?