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Only Safe Way Is To Obey

A boy named Tom asked his friend Charles, "Did you know that Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt because she did not obey God?" Charles replied, "That's nothing. My mother turned into a telephone pole because she didn't obey the traffic signal." Failure to obey can be costly. Fail to obey a speed limit, a "STOP" sign, or the law of gravity, and you (and others) may literally pay a price. Prisons are filled with people who thought they could "break the law" and get away with it. Clearly, failure to respect and obey legitimate kinds of authority and laws is behind much of the pain and misery in our world today. Adam and Eve learned too late that the only safe way is to obey. God placed them in a perfect paradise with only one rule to obey — "of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" (Genesis 2:17). Clear enough. But surely you know the sad, sorry story of the serpent's temptation and how they gave in and ate (3:6). The first time I read that story many years ago I couldn't help wondering what the big deal was. A shallow reading of the account still leaves some scratching their heads and wondering why God made such a big fuss out of what, on the surface, seems to be such a small thing. I mean, come on. Just a little piece of fruit, right? Wrong. It wasn't a small thing at all. It was a big thing. A really big thing. In reality, it was (and is) the biggest issue human beings ever face. At stake in the incident was not just a piece of fruit but a choice that would reveal Adam and Eve's attitude toward God and His word. Did they really believe that God was God and that He knew what was best? Did they really accept Him as their sovereign Creator who had ultimate authority over their lives? Would they believe that if God said it that settled it? Or would they feel free to reject His word and choose some other seemingly more appealing but unsafe way? Well, as Paul Harvey famously said, "Now we know the rest of the story." Scripture and history speak with one voice to tell us two things: #1, mankind's tendency is to not obey God; #2, we are not safe when we don't.

Fast forward to our own age, a time of religious and moral pluralism when the word "obey" is no longer in the vocabulary of many religious people. The result is. widespread religious division, even among believers in Jesus. Even over basic and fundamental questions on such things as baptism and its purpose and design, the unity and organization and oneness of the New Testament church, worship in spirit and truth, and the necessity of faithful Christian living (Mark 16:15-16; John 17:20-23; Ephesians 4:4-6; John 4:24; Acts 2:42). What should the church do as the world continues to put the squeeze on God's people to be more religiously and morally open and tolerant than God would allow? We must not forget the warning repeated frequently in the Bible and summed up in the inspired words of Hebrews 5:9 where we are told that Jesus is "the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him." It will always be true: in our efforts to please God and get to Heaven, the only safe way is to trust and obey.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ