Duty Or Love?

Do you follow or obey Jesus out of a sense of duty or obligation?

Duty is only a substitute for love. ~ C. S. Lewis

I’ve always had this nagging sense that Jesus never wanted anyone to follow because they felt obligated or compelled. He doesn’t want followers who fear the consequences of not-following.

That’s why God sent a person rather than a list of rules or a book of theology. If I could know this person completely, I’d follow because I couldn’t imagine anything better. My desires lead me astray to the extent that I don’t truly “get” Jesus.

I encountered this wonderful quote from C. S. Lewis: Letters to Children:

A perfect man would never act from a sense of duty; he’d always want the right thing more than the wrong one. Duty is only a substitute for love (of God and of other people), like a crutch, which is a substitute for a leg. Most of us need the crutch at times; but of course it’s idiotic to use the crutch when our own legs (or own loves, tastes, habits etc) can do the journey on their own!

I think Lewis is saying that when we focus on duty—rules, obligations, anything that smacks of coercion—we create false gods.

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

Whenever I feel guilty for not doing something, or afraid of what will happen if I don’t do something, I figure it’s a sign that I’m missing the point. Jesus isn’t about fear and guilt.

Following from a sense of obligation tells me where my desire isn’t aligned with the person of Jesus. It’s not telling me to fight my desire.

It’s telling me to learn more about love. It’s telling me I need to get to know Jesus better.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

One look at how this works in real life: Clear Eyes, Full Heart.

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Copyright 2008-2012 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

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