For a moment, let’s pretend you work for me. We’re not in the pastorate. In fact, you are an executive in a company that is growing rapidly. I’m the owner and I’m interested in expanding overseas. To pull this off, I make plans to travel abroad and stay there until the new branch office gets established. I make all the arrangements to take my family in the move to Europe for six to eight months, and I leave you in charge of the busy stateside organization. I tell you that I will write you regularly and give you direction and instructions. I leave and you stay.
Months pass. A flow of letters from me are mailed from Europe and received by you at the national headquarters. In them I spell out all my expectations. Finally, I return. Soon after my arrival I drive down to the office. I am stunned! Grass and weeds have grown up high. A few windows along the street are broken. I walk into the receptionist’s room and she is doing her nails, chewing gum, and listening to her favorite rock station. I look around and notice the wastebaskets are overflowing, the carpet hasn’t been vacuumed for weeks, the rooms are cluttered and messy, and nobody seems concerned that the owner has returned. I ask about your whereabouts and someone in the crowded lounge area points down the hall and yells, “I think he’s down there.” Disturbed, I move in that direction and bump into you as you are finishing a chess game with our sales manager. I ask you to step into my office (which has been temporarily turned into a television room for watching afternoon soap operas).
“What in the world is going on, man?”
“What do you mean, Chuck?”
“Well, look at this place! Didn’t you get any of my letters?”
“Letters? Oh, yeah—sure, got every one of them. As a matter of fact, Chuck, we have had letter study every Friday night since you left. We have even divided all the personnel into small groups and discussed many of the things you wrote. Some of those things were really interesting. You’ll be pleased to know that a few of us have actually committed to memory some of your sentences and paragraphs. One or two memorized an entire letter! Great stuff in those letters!”
Sound a little familiar?
Jesus, the Lord, goes to the bottom line when He said, in effect, “I left you an example of what you should do—carry out my directions, fulfill my commands, follow my instructions.” That’s obedience. That’s doing what we are told to do.