Jesus was God's perfect servant because Jesus surrendered to God in total obedience. God wanted His son to come to earth. He obeyed and came. God wanted His son to live on earth as a human. Jesus obeyed and became a man. God wanted His son to devote himself to a ministry of service. Jesus obeyed. He assumed the role of a servant and did a servant's work. God wanted His son to be devoted exclusively to God's purposes and objectives. Jesus obeyed. He did only those things he saw the Father doing and spoke only those things the Father wanted him to speak. God wanted His son to surrender life in a criminal's death. Jesus obeyed. He was executed by Roman soldiers on a cross.
Jesus made this truth clearly evident: serving God and obeying God walk together hand-in-hand. To divorce serving God from obeying God destroys God's presence in your service. To divorce obeying God from serving God reduces divine activity to a meaningless human enterprise. God's ideal servant [Jesus] served and obeyed. John repeatedly quoted Jesus as saying, "I can do nothing of my own initiative." Today God's mature servants [hopefully us] serve and obey. The world can see our obedience in our service. The world can see our service in our obedience.
Paul wrote to Christians living in Rome (1:7). The church contained Jewish Christians. Their religious background was shaped by their study and knowledge of those scriptures we commonly refer to as the Old Testament. The church also contained non-Jewish Christians. Many of them had a religious background fashioned by worshipping the gods through idolatry. Obviously, there were Christians whose ancestors knew the living God for centuries. And, there were Christians who had just met the living God through Jesus Christ.
Many Jewish Christians did not appreciate a presentation of and emphasis on grace. Grace made it possible for people who had not known God to be "first class citizens" in the kingdom of God. A resentment of God's grace was founded on a misunderstanding of their baptism. First, Paul led these Christians toward an understanding of their baptism. Then Paul led them toward an understanding of obedience.
Caution: Christians do not manufacture obedience. Christian obedience is not artificial obedience. We do not create our own standards and attach them to obedience. We do not produce our own emphasis and attach it to obedience. We do not confuse personal preferences with God's desires. We learn God's will; we do not define God's will.
We begin life in God by focusing on and understanding Jesus Christ. We realize he is the Word and the Light. We study the Bible to understand God. We study the New Testament to understand (a) Jesus and (b) Christian existence in Jesus. We learn who we are as individuals in Christ. We learn who we are as the church. We serve God to be God's community of people in Christ. We serve God because we want our lives and existence to be ruled by God.
Our obedience comes from our faith, our hearts and our love. The objectives of our obedience include these four things: (1) to build our personal relationship with God; (2) to build our personal relationship with all who come under God's rule by being alive in Christ; (3) to reveal to weak Christians the values and joys of allowing God to control our lives; and (4) to reveal to those enslaved to sin the life and freedom found in Christ.
Grace and obedience are not enemies. Grace never gives us "the right" to be disobedient. Obedience never "earns" salvation or "obligates" God. Grace renews our relationship with God when Satan defeats us through temptation. Obedience expresses our love and gratitude for God's grace. We serve God because the benevolent God of compassion saves us from death. Obedience expresses our love and demonstrates our gratitude.
Link to Teacher's Guide Quarter 2, Lesson 9
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