May 1, 2015

President's pulse -- Obedience

Written by  Nelson Okanya

This article appears in the May/June 2015 issue of Missionary Messenger; subscribe to read more articles like this one.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me ... My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." ­— Jesus in John 10:14, 27

These words of Jesus bring my early years to mind. As a young child in Kenya, I would frequently care for a flock of sheep. I was a shepherd boy.

Along with my cousins and other boys in the village, I took care of cattle, sheep, and goats. It was our responsibility to lead the flock to adequate pasture, water, and safety. The animals were trained to obey us. Sometimes they were stubborn, but it was our job to care for them anyway.

So I have a special connection to Jesus saying that He is the good shepherd. The shepherd-sheep relationship is one of trusting and learning to obey. Like the animals that learned to obey me — and follow where I led them — I learned to obey Jesus as my good shepherd who knew who I was to become. The more I learned to obey, the more I yearned to obey.

Obedience is rarely a popular concept in our culture. I suspect this is because obedience is often associated with a joyless, rule-based relationship. But at EMM we reject the thought of a joyless, rule-based relationship.

One of our three core values is obedience. We hold to a joyful, relational obedience rooted in our gratefulness for all that God has done in pursuing humanity with love and forgiveness (Romans 5:8). In this relational obedience, we discern together and expect God's voice to fully impact our actions, attitudes, and decision making.

Obviously we are not perfect. We stray from time to time. But God pursues us with love and forgiveness! Our ears pick up the sound of God calling and we return to the pastures and paths chosen by our Good Shepherd, recommitted to grateful obedience to a loving God.

May we find ourselves obeying more deeply, more joyfully. And as we obey, may we find ourselves transformed, living with Christ-like attitudes and perspectives.

This article appears in the May/June 2015 issue of Missionary Messenger; subscribe to read more articles like this one.