Yesterday was one of those days as a parent. Things didn’t go as they say they should in all the parenting books. Actually they were very much the opposite. I gave instruction of a couple age appropriate chores for the kids to do. I insured that clear and God-honoring communication had taken place and that the children understood what was expected of them. I had kindly reminded them what they were to do and had given ample and reasonable time for their obedience. Imagine my surprise when all the strategies of the books didn’t seem to be agreeable to all of our kids.
In order to maintain my composure and to not be given to a fit of anger when I discovered the tasks not being started, much less completed; I went outside and sat on a tree stump by the vegetable garden. While I sat and prayed (and steamed a bit) one of my younger sons came outside. He came to my side, laid his head on my shoulder, and sighed.
I am not a man who fears or is uncomfortable with physical affection from my childen. I hug and kiss them daily. I high-five my boys and hold hands with my daughter. Physical affection as an expression of love is a regular and daily reality in our home. However, in that moment I didn’t want a hug from my son. I didn’t merely want his affection. What I wanted was his obedience. So I told him that. I told him how much I love him (a fact he alreay knew with great certainty); however, in that moment affection was not a substitute for obedience.
I love his hugs. I love his affection. However, I do not want it as a substitute for his obedience. I want his obedience as an expression of his love for me, as an expression of his affection for me. My concern is that this is the way that many (and at times I would/must admit I am guilty as well) treat a relationship with God. We run to express our affection through worship. We eagerly jump at the chance for the next worship event, but cringe at the thought of what may be perceived as difficult obedience. Obedience that costs us.
Obedience that puts us at odds with our own desire. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:3 ESV) Indeed, we show our love for God in worship. It is certainly appropriate that we shower Him with affection. It us good and right that we as God’s children would enjoy singing praises to Him in worship; both individually and corporately. But in the same way we cannot deny our love for Him in disobedience. A healthy relationship with God requires both obedience and affection. May we sing and serve with equal vigor. Brothers and sisters, may we pour out our love for our Father in abundance through obedience and worship.