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A different look at 'obedience'

Yesterday, I was speaking to a dear woman who could be considered a model of the "good Christian woman." She's in her late sixties, teaches pre-schoolers, loves her family, and serves on mission trips. She loves God and is firmly committed to the ways of Jesus.

Yet, she's still uncertain if she's obedient enough to go to Heaven. I got the sense that if her faith wavered, her eternity would be in jeopardy.

I tried to lead her into a different way of thinking about it: First, it's impossible for us to maintain our faith in Christ at a 100 percent level for the rest of our lives. There's simply too much set against us. It's an unfair and unrealistic expectation of us.

Secondly, as I've noticed in my own journey, we can begin to obsess about our capacity to trust Christ, wondering, "Do I trust him enough? Do I love him enough? Am I doing enough? Obedient enough?" Notice the first person singular pronoun in each sentence. And, notice the word 'enough.' Are we not making faith a new work here? Isn't obedience to the law a tyranny of the 'enough?' It seems as though we've unwittingly made our capacity to 'trust and obey' the new benchmark for worthiness.

Perhaps a better way of looking at obedience is to find security in the obedience of Jesus himself. Our salvation wasn't simply secured by the Cross. It was also won by the daily obedience and goodness-of-heart of a Son towards a Father. At every momentary point of decision and each posture of the heart, Jesus' own obedience to the Father turned back a wayward humanity. He wasn't born into sin, nor made the choice to, yet he did have the capacity to. This aspect of his humanity is absolutely critical if his followers are to have any hope of becoming like him. It was not enough that he should die in obedience to the Father: he also had to live a life in obedience and settled confidence in our Father.
That very obedience has now been transferred to us. Not simply 'credited' to us; but deposited into our new hearts.

The obedience of Jesus is now ours. His life of moment-by-moment trust in the Father fully satisfies God and is fully sufficient for our secured place in him. What's more, the delight our Father had for Jesus is ours as well. Our unity with the death, resurrection, authority ... and moment-by-moment life of Jesus leaves us secured and free in the kingdom. There's no pressure to obey, no fear of lapsing in faith. There is only the shared life of Jesus with his brothers and sisters who are now and forever bound to the freedom and security of his well-lived life.

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