EDITOR'S NOTE: This column is part of the call to prayer issued by Frank S. Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, to pray for revival and spiritual awakening for our churches, our nation and our world.
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NASHVILLE (BP) -- Why does God have to be so insistent?
Without doubt, one of the facts of faith is that we must obey God.
Moms and dads, in varying ways, yearn for their children to obey. And we surely marvel at children who indeed obey their parents.
Citizens, sometimes grudgingly, understand they must obey the law. And if we think about it, we're glad for every moment of safety that the law, when obeyed, accords us in our homes, our automobiles and in our communities.
But obey God? We tend to accuse God of unilaterally issuing an edict: "Just do as I say."
God is far from the only one, however, with an expectation of obedience in today's cultural milieu.
Pro-choice advocates, though they don't use the word, strive for the society to obey, or yield to, even laud their beliefs for abortion rights. And yes, those who see the hand of God in all moments of human life also attempt to sway people to their moral ground.
The same push and shove to obey, sometimes with civility, is evident among homosexual rights advocates and among those who see a loving God calling humankind to refrain from homosexuality.
The tussle for public opinion is evident between proponents of marijuana legalization and those who sorrow over anyone's flight from reality -- a reality that can be elevated by God's redemption and His wisdom in Scripture.
And certainly the sexual liberationists and the popularizers of pornography have much to celebrate in a culture that regularly obeys their beliefs, especially the obedience of so many who produce today's movies, TV shows and popular music and the masses who tune in to them. Meanwhile, those who see the centrality of marriage and family to human well-being may feel they increasingly are "a voice crying in the wilderness."
Bob Dylan penned and sang it so profoundly: "... you're gonna have to serve somebody." Serve, obey, follow, acquiesce -- simple words for the life-consuming realities that confront us every day.
If you're in a quandary about whom to obey, you're far from alone.
Yet there's a turning point; it begins when you pray. Get alone for a few minutes and just begin to pray.
Here are two simple, clear sentences from Scripture to pray about, from the New Testament book of John, chapter 15, verses 10 and 11. Jesus tells us, "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."
Abortion, homosexual behavior, marijuana use, unchecked sexuality, pornography -- do these offer the love and joy intended by our Creator?
To obey, pray.
Pray over each Scripture verse that you read. Pray that, with your life surrendered to Jesus, you will obey the one who can lead you to a healing repentance for sin and a wholesome way of living guided by the Holy Spirit of a marvelous Creator/Redeemer in a world of brokenness and lostness.
Indeed, pray to obey.
Art Toalston is editor of Baptist Press and author of "When I Meditate" and "Meditation & Morality," available at eBookIt.com (http://bit.ly/WhenIMeditate & http://bit.ly/Meditation-Morality, with options for PDF copies), Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online sites. For an earlier article new birth, go to Toalston/new birth