Free will rather than obedience: “I exercised my freedom.”

Obedience? Freedom! “I don’t want to be obedient any longer,” the Chief Apostle said and described a better way of following Jesus Christ. A divine service about the power of free will.

A total of 4,500 participants followed the youth service on 15 March 2019 in Colonia (Uruguay), which was transmitted to congregations in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The sermon was based on John 15: 10: “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.”

Once children reach adolescence, they want more independence and to make their own decisions, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider said. Obedience is a word they do not necessarily want to hear. However, it is still the Apostles’ mission to teach us the commandments of Jesus Christ. “Let us strengthen our faith so that obedience is born of faith.”

“What then are the commandments of Jesus Christ?” the Chief Apostle asked and mentioned five points.

  • The Ten Commandments: “Jesus said: ‘I did not come to destroy the law.’ Read through them again. It’s worth it.”
  • The commandment of faith: “We would like the Lord to show and explain everything to us so that we have proof.” Nevertheless: “We must believe in God, in Jesus Christ. Sometimes we must believe without seeing, without understanding, and without any explanations.”
  • The commandment concerning access to salvation: “We must listen to the word of God and receive the sacraments. This is not a rule invented by the New Apostolic Church. This is a commandment of Jesus Christ.”
  • The commandment of discipleship: “We must follow the Lord’s example and always act, think, and speak as He acted, thought, and spoke.”
  • The commandment to love our neighbour: this is a two-fold commandment. Firstly, this is about love in the congregation. The members are to help and support each other. Secondly, this is about love for all of mankind. And that means that we profess the gospel and pass it on.

“We must keep these commandments as Jesus kept them,” the Chief Apostle said. “Our motivation is not influenced by the fear of punishment. Nor should our motivation be influenced by the fact that we want to receive a reward at some point.” Instead, the Chief Apostle cited the following attributes as motivation:

  • gratitude: “Those who believe in Jesus Christ, who believe in His sacrifice, in the salvation He offers, are thankful to the Lord and keep His commandments out of gratitude.”
  • freedom: “We are not subject to a foreign power. We belong to God, and only to God. We have His law.” And: “I exercised my freedom and chose Jesus Christ. That is my path.”
  • love: “I don’t want to be separated from Jesus Christ. I love Jesus Christ, He died for me. I don’t want to leave Him. That is why I will first check to see what will help me remain with Him.”
  • readiness: “We have a holy mission: making other people understand that there is a way other than selfishness. There is a way other than money and materialism. And there is a way other than violence and power.”
  • development: “His thoughts become our thoughts, meaning we no longer need to be obedient. Being obedient means complying with someone else’s wish or will. My objective is: I don’t want to be obedient any longer. I would like the will of Jesus Christ to become entirely my will.”

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Andreas Rother
Uruguay, Chief Apostle, Divine service