It is clear in scripture that God wants us to obey Him – He commands it. But what do I do when I don’t want to obey? As I began to understand the importance of my heart in relation to God – not just my external actions – I wrestled with this question. I want to be authentic with God. So does that mean I do not obey when I don’t want to? It seemed to make sense. I figured God would rather me be honest about what my heart really wanted, rather than ‘fake’ it and obey Him even though I didn’t want to. And then the times I did want to obey would be more meaningful to God – right? Essentially I was attempting to justify my disobedience in the name of authenticity.
God graciously began working in my heart on this issue. He does want authenticity from me, but he also commands obedience. They’re not contradictory. My understanding of both obedience and authenticity has shifted.
God commands obedience, not agreement.
I came to realize that I was not giving God obedience, but agreement. When two people want the same thing it’s called agreeing. Only ‘obeying’ God when I want to is not obedience, it’s agreement. Being a follower of Christ demands that we deny ourselves and our own desires. We follow Jesus now, not ourselves.
But how does this obedience couple with authenticity?
Our authenticity is in light of our new identity in Christ.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2. Corinthians 5:17a). I have a new identity in Christ. This identity trusts in God and His promises. It believes that God and His ways are far better than me and my ways. In light of my identity in Christ, when I have the choice to obey, I choose to obey Him – whether I want to or not – because I trust in Him. This is an authentic Christ follower.
True obedience is following God when I don’t want to. True authenticity is acting on the reality of who I am in Christ. True faith is living in light of God’s character and promises, not my own understanding or desires.