Romans 1:5 - …we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name…
Everyone in our house woke up late this morning. It was rainy, dreary, and Wednesday–a combination that made us all want to stay in bed. Once we were up, the fighting started: one kid shoved the other one who said something mean, one didn’t want to get out of bed at all, one hated their lunch, and no one cleaned up their rooms.
I wanted to scream, “Just do what I’m telling you to do or else I’ll…”
Fill in whatever it is you think you would yell in this situation. It doesn’t really matter what it is. Whatever the punishment would be, the message was, do what I’m telling you to do, or else.
Most of us think that this is what Christianity is about. I better do what God is telling me to do, or else…
Or else we’ll be punished, or we’ll be sent to Hell, or we’ll lose our blessings, or terrible things will happen unless we learn to fall in line, do the right thing, and not complain. When I hear words like “obedience” that’s what I think of. But that’s not what Paul means.
Paul lays out what he intends to do in his letter to the Romans in the first chapter: his call is to bring about obedience, however he says it’s the obedience of faith. In other words, it’s a specific type of behavior that flows from faith; it is preceded by faith, informed by faith, and even empowered by faith. Faith is the active ingredient that brings about the obedience that Paul wanted to encourage.
I thought about that in relation to my children’s behavior and why they didn’t want to do what I asked them to do. I think it’s because they don’t trust me.
I mean, they trust me a little. They trust me as their dad. They trust that I’ll make sure that they are clothed, fed, and have a roof over their head. They trust that if they fall I will catch them, I’ll be waiting. But they don’t trust me enough yet to believe that the way I’m asking them to live will be better for them in the long run. They still want to follow their own instincts, and their instincts are (almost) always wrong.
So, they shove, mock, yell, act lazy—all the things that seem good to them in the moment but in the long run will leave them in a bad place. If they only trusted that my instruction was in their best interest, maybe they’d start to obey. My plan is to keep on being their dad while they learn to trust me even more.
That’s what Paul means by the obedience of faith. He wants you to trust your Heavenly Father so much that you begin to honor him with the entirety of your life, including getting to that point where you believe that his instruction is for your own best interest. In the meantime, God is patient and loving with us, still acting like our dad while we grow in our faith. As Jesus once said in Matthew 7:11, if imperfect father’s can figure that out, don’t you think our Heavenly Father will love us even more?