The opening of 1 Peter gives us 6 phrases which help us answer the question, “What is the church?”
Today I am commenting on phrase #5 “… for obedience to Jesus.”
What is the church?
The church are those people who have decided to obey Jesus. This decision immediately differentiates a person from the rest of the world. This decision is the great ultimatum.
If you are a person who lives to obey Jesus, you are a part of the church. If you are not a person who lives to obey Jesus, you are not a part of the church. That is the divide.
Paul opens up 1 Corinthians with a similar description of the church:
“To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.”
What makes the church of Corinth “together” with the rest of the body?
The Lordship of Jesus, Paul says. “Both their Lord and ours.” That is the commonality which creates the Church.
We easily complicate our ecclesiology.
I think evangelicals tend to be nebulous about defining Church. There is nothing concrete about church. Have a beer with a friend and talk theology and call it church.
But the New Testament writers seem to understand the church as those who have decided to receive the Lordship of Jesus, and so live out obedience with him.
8 Ways the Scripture Calls Everyone to Obey Jesus
Obedience is not an intangible thing. There are concrete ways that obedience to Jesus will manifest in our life.
Here are eight ways obedience to Jesus manifests itself:
1) Obeying Jesus means baptism.
“Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).
You can’t decide to obey Jesus and not be baptized, because he has called all men and women to repent and be baptized.
2) Obeying Jesus means turning from sin.
“The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).
Jesus calls us to reject our sin. He calls us to live out sexuality as he defines in his word, to live out of service and love toward others rather than manipulation and selfishness, to not steal but to work hard and give charitably.
When Jesus brings us into his kingdom we turn our back on sin and turn to his Lordship.
3) Obeying Jesus means reading and submitting to his Word.
Jesus says, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
Paul describes the Philippians as “holding fast to the word of life.”
To live in obedience to Jesus is to hunger for his Word.
4) Obeying Jesus means praying individually and with other believers.
Jesus’ Word is clear to pray continuously, to bring everything before the Father (Phil 4). This is clear in the Lord’s prayer.
When we make a decision to obey Jesus we make a decision to continually communicate with our Father, and to do so in community (1 Tim 2:1-8).
5) Obeying Jesus means fellowship with a local church and biblical leadership.
Jesus’ Word calls us to meet together regularly, to worship, to take communion, to pray, to be in Scripture (Heb 10:25).
His Word is also not unclear that there should be biblical leadership.
6) Obeying Jesus means taking communion together.
He has commanded us to “do this in remembrance of him.”
7) Obeying Jesus means serving the poor.
When people decide to obey Jesus’ Word, they will serve the poor (1 John 3:17 and James 1-4)
8) Obeying Jesus means living the Great Commission.
These are our marching orders (Matthew 28).
And there’s more…
These are a handful of specifics I pulled from Scripture. There are dozens more.
In addition, the Holy Spirit is faithful to lead us and show us how to obey Jesus in our unique situation with the relationships he has given.
Is obedience to Jesus the all-encompassing reality of your life?