Why do people obey God? In the midst of a crowed airport one couple caught my attention. They were dressed in a unique way that made them stand apart from the tattooed, vacation-attired Florida airport crowd. Their clothes were handmade from the same blue plaid fabric. It wasn’t a popular plaid either. The fabric seemed as if it could have been purchased from a surplus store that everyone else rejected for their own sewing projects. The woman had a jumper dress of the fabric, a dress that seemed to only touch the tops of her shoulders and hung loosely down her body. I may not have even noticed if her husband were not wearing a shirt sewn from the exact fabric. It was well made with buttons down the front and even over the chest-pocket. I’m sure in their community this attire would be admired; but in the community in which they were traveling, it brought attention to their foreign choices. I never spoke with them, but I assume they dressed this way because it was a decision to obey God. They do not feel free to wear a t-shirt and stretchy pants and bring along a hoodie for the cold plane like me.
I don’t like to spend a lot of money on clothes, but I do love to wear fashionable clothes. I’m not one to buy trendy items or have to be the latest style, but I love color and unique fashion. I’ve been this way all my life. I try not to leave the house without looking halfway decent in my attire. I even pray for ideas about what to wear when I am stuck. I believe God helps me think of combinations of ways to wear my clothes in a way that makes me feel comfortable in the destination. This leads me to the question of what knowing God looks like. Could you claim that the couple in their obviously set apart from the world state of attire knows God in a way that I have not developed yet? Do I not know God because I am still enjoying cute (and as I age, comfortable—thus the stretchy pants) clothes.
1 John 2:3-6 says:
“We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, I know him, but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”
To know God is to obey Him. Obeying God is a matter of the heart. Even though my clothes don’t set me apart, I think most people would assume that I know God by the cross I wear and the way I treat them. Yet, that is not a true indication of whether I know God. It can just indicate that I have learned a way of living that conforms to the ideas of Christianity in my own community.
The way I know that I know God is when I obey Him in my heart. Obedience is God’s love language. He knows how incredibly difficult it is for me to obey Him. He knows that half the things He asks of me go against my very nature. He knows the battle that rages when I want to act out my frustration when driving, or to gossip, or refuse to forgive people who cause egregious harm. He knows that I am not loving Him, rather succumbing to my own corrupted, fallen, finite thoughts, feelings and decisions.
To know God is to obey Him. We know God when we know that He would never-ever-in-million-years-ever ask us to do something that would cause us harm. You see, I can only slow down behind the trucker who seemed to pull out just in time to slow me down for miles while he takes 10 minutes to pass the truck going a half a mile slower than him without cursing him in my head and wondering how selfish he can be. When I know God, He invites me to accept the delay and take a deep breath and think about alternate reasons the trucker may have just made that move. Perhaps it wasn’t about his selfishness at all but about his career and his need to maintain a steady speed to not waste gas and to arrive at his destination.
True obedience is about knowing God. God knows me and so far He has not asked me to dress in a certain way. I’ll just keep on enjoying my stretchy pants and asking for His help to love Him by my obedience!