And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” (John 3:36)
Read: Numbers 34:1 – 36:13
Relate: I was on a soccer team that was wasn’t all that great. No, let me be honest, we were bad. Real bad. This season was actually my first year playing keeper rather than midfield as my primary position. In my hubris I would like to think the coach would be able to shrug and think, “At least we might have a bunch of 0-0 ties,” but I wasn’t nearly that good at my new position. A few years down the road, perhaps but not yet. If I remember right, we tied two games, and lost the rest. Both of the ties came fairly early in the season. As the season progressed, it became obvious that we were just going through the motions. We knew how bad we were and that just made us worse. We knew we couldn’t win and our knowledge became a self fulfilling prophesy. I really feel sorry for our coach. By the end of the season he beg bribe or plead us into do our drills in practice. We did not believe and so we simply would not obey.
React: I think I know a few people who respond spiritually the same way a lot of us on that team played. There might be a lot of going through the motions, but there isn’t much in the way of true belief. That is exactly what legalism is. I’m going to obey because it is the right, it is the respectable thing to do. I am going to go to church because I don’t want to hear my spouse nagging me about it all the time. I’ll even clap my hands and sing the songs because that way I can blend in better. But following the rules without believing in the Rule giver is like trying to go through those soccer drills while fully believing we will lose our next game 5-0. There is no real motivation because there is no purpose behind it.
In this last verse of John 3 believe and obey are linked. Those who believe will experience eternal life, but those who do not obey will never have it. The fact is, you can’t really have one without the other. If I really believe we can win the championship then I will obey the coach. If I really believe Christ has saved me, then I will live like I’m saved. But if I think that’s just a bunch of religious platitudes and that preacher isn’t truly grounded in the real world I live in then I simply cannot obey. Yes, I might be able to go through the motions for a while but it will be hard, miserable drudgery rather than the joy of an abundant life. Faith motivates obedience and obedience builds faith. The more you do one, the more you will see of the other.
God, You are great, mighty, awesome and powerful. You are the best and the greatest. You are majestic and glorious. You are wonderful. There is nothing greater and no one better. You are all. Thank You so much for the honor and privilege of the invitation of being on Your team. Thank You for the joy of being able to ride with You all the way to victory. You win. We win. Every time. Jesus, I believe in You.