READ: Nehemiah 4-6, Psalm 143, Luke 7, 1 John 2
To place ourselves under authority is to exhibit great faith. In Luke 7 a soldier demonstrates what it means to trust: “Say the word, and my servant will be healed” (v. 7). Jesus is impressed by the one who does not whine, does not doubt, does not even need a personalized home visit. Jesus is delighted by hearts that simply trust Him. When we submit all we are and have to Jesus, Jesus considers this the greatest manifestation of faith. We exhibit our love for Jesus by taking Him at His word, by not demanding proof, by not bothering Him. Sometimes our prayers are just whining, and God rejoices when His children make a habit of not being whiny. Faith is not restricted to miracle. Great faith is displayed by common daily obedience.
Ongoing faith submits itself to the commands of Jesus–without discussion, without argument. John equates this discipline with knowledge of God. “This is how we know that we know Him…if we keep His commandment” (1 John 2:3). Obedience is our epistemology, it is how we know that we know Jesus–our alacrity to do what He wants us to do. Humans in their self-centeredness strive to get God to please them, forgetting that we exist to please Him. A primary way to please God is by trusting Him. When we obey Him immediately and joyfully, we bring Him great pleasure. He rewards us for trusting Him, not only by answering prayers but by swelling up within our spirit the knowledge (confirmation and internal satisfaction) that we do indeed know Him. Obedience (outside of results) becomes to us a great source of joy and comfort. By obeying Him we have trusted Him, by trusting Him we have pleased Him, by pleasing Him we have felt His pleasure, and His pleasure is life to our soul.
Trusting Jesus (obeying Him devotedly) will often mean that we disobey, or at least disappoint the world. Sometimes our knowledge and obedience of Jesus will call us to sternness when all around us party. Sometimes our knowledge of Him will lead us to joy when all around are dour or depressed. Obedient knowledge of Jesus will always be out of step with the world. We don’t do what the world wants when they want us to do it. We even don’t do what other Christians want/expect us to do when their expectations are contrary to God’s orders. We constantly do what Jesus wants, we are under His authority.
The two most practical ways we exhibit our trust of Jesus is by obeying His word, and by obeying those He has placed in authority over us. We need not worry about abuse, for there is inbuilt protection in the order of these twin authorities. We obey earthly authorities as long as their instruction does not contradict the authority of the Word of God. Obedience-based discipleship is the only true discipleship. The Word of God does us no good if we do not obey it. Our faith is manifested and grown when on a regular basis we obey what we daily read in the Bible. Our faith is proved and refined as we submit to those God has put in authority over us. By this ongoing submission to God’s Word and God’s authorities, we are not only protected, but we find the deep pleasure of God.