Rick Warren says Christians obey God and do good deeds out of love, not fear
Christians obey God and do good deeds not because they fear Him but because they love Him, says Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church.
Non-believers wrongly assume that Christians obey God out of guilt, fear, and obligation. But Warren says this idea is wrong because Christians are actually motivated by love.
"Why do we really obey God? Because He loves us! He wants the best for us. He loves you like nobody else will ever love you. The Bible says the only reason there's love in the world is because God is love. We don't obey God out of fear or guilt or obligation. We obey God out of love because He loved us and saved us," he writes on his website.
Warren was once confronted by a non-believer who told him that when he was still a Christian he was "restricted" in his actions because he could not get high on drugs, get drunk on alcohol, or sleep with as many women as he wished to.
But Warren says Christians do not want to indulge in those "cheap, phony thrills" because their love is in Christ.
He says those actions "give a temporary kick to life, but then they kick back. They may look like freedom, but they don't last, and they lead to despair, not dignity — depression, not delight."
People cannot say they love Jesus and then proceed to live like the devil, says Warren, adding that doing so only means that people's hearts aren't really set to serve God.
"You can't say you're a Christian and then keep on living a self-centered life. You can't say you're a follower of Jesus and then pick and choose the verses that you want to listen to and ignore the ones you don't. Jesus says you're His friend if you obey Him and His commandments," says Warren.
At the same time, Warren says God does not want His children to follow Him out of fear and guilt. "He doesn't want you to obey Him because you're scared of punishment. God wants you to obey Him because of love. It's His love that leads to true joy," he explains.