I have a child who struggles with obedience. I believe the politically correct term for this is "strong-willed." I think "stubborn" and "willful" also fit the bill.
On one of our trips this year, we stayed in a house that had a small beach that led to a dock on the lake. Because the beach had a steep dropoff into the water, we literally drew a line in the sand that we told the kids not to cross.
The first thing my daughter did was see how far across the line she could get before someone told her to get back. She had to know if she could touch the line, put her toes over the line or even get a foot over the line before she got in trouble. It wasn't enough for her to know that there was a rule. She had to know if the rule was going to be enforced.
I think we all struggle with obedience. How often does God tell us to do something or not to do something and we either ignore Him or see how far across the line we can get before we either get hurt or get our hand slapped?
God asks for our obedience to His commands, not because He loves setting up rules for us to follow but becuase obedience is a tangible sign of our love for Him. Even in the Old Testament, God wanted obedience to flow out of love, not just a rote following of the rules. Deuteronomy 11:1 says "Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always."
This verse tells us to love God first, then follow His commands. Our obedience to God is how we show we love Him.
Too often, being a Christ-follower can come across as a list of rules to follow. But Jesus' sacrifice on the cross was the ultimate act of love. God asks for our love. When we give Him that, obedience will follow.
Our kids need to know that being a Christ-follower isn't just a list of rules to follow. It's a lifestyle based on love. Because we love God, we choose to follow His commands. And, we love God because He first loved us and sacrificed His son so that we would not spend eternity separated from God.
As you memorize Deuteronomy 11:1 this week, talk with your kids about obedience. Explain that obedience is an act of love, whether it's obedience to you or obedience to God. Love makes obedience easier, but it's still a choice we have to make.
God loves us enough that He sacrificed His son for us. All He asks of us is that we love Him and show that love through obedience. Love is the key.