The Lord your God you shall follow, him alone you shall fear, his commandments you shall keep, his voice you shall obey, him you shall serve, and to him you shall hold fast.
Jesus said, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
You would think that a man given to serving as a pastor for the cause of Christ and his reign in peoples’ hearts would have this one down: Fear God alone. Follow him alone. Obey him alone. Serve him alone. Hold fast to him alone. And for the most part, in general, and outwardly-speaking I do these things. I fear God, obey him, serve him. But I don’t do it perfectly.
I’m convinced, moreover, that I’m not alone in that. In fact, we all miss the mark one way or another in regard to this command. We let people bully us into abandoning God’s ways, end up serving our own needs and insecurities, waltz around the edge of certain commandments, wander off the path in pursuit of our own goals or distractions. Often we are not even aware of our wandering.
I love the thought attributed to Martin Luther: A God is that to which we look for the highest good in life.” And herein lies the secret of fearing, loving, and trusting in God above all things: We don’t follow, obey, fear, serve, and hold fast to God so that we may be Jesus’ friends. We do so because we are Jesus’ friends. We show we are Jesus’ friends by obeying his commands. When we fail to do so, we are abandoning his friendship and our true identity as sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father.
The grave danger of false religion is the idea that we must appease God, please him, and win his affections. But just as it is true that we sin (acting) because we are sinners (being), it is also true that we obey (act) because we are God’s children (being). We could never act our way into being – no matter what the behaviorists may assert. But what we could not do, God has done. He sent his Son to save us, called us to himself through the Good News of Jesus, brought us to faith by the power of the Holy Spirit, and declared us to be righteous through faith.
My Lord Jesus perfectly obeyed, feared God, served him, followed only the path of obedience – to the point of death on the cross. I claim his righteousness and seek to show that in a life of obedience and service. When I fail, I thank God for his mercy and forgiveness in Christ. In the mean time, I continually seek to follow, love, serve, obey, and honor him who called me his son. I am simply living out who I am in Christ. He alone has our hightest good in mind.