The Command for Obedience is Really a Call to Faith

Both of my hands are gently gripped on the shoulders of my toddler. As I try to square up our eyes, she squirms and looks away. I say with a Spirit-empowered tenderness, “Elizabeth, obey your daddy.”

She doesn’t get this yet, but I am really calling her to faith in Jesus.

It goes this way: I tell her to not grab random cups off the table and drink out of them because I want to protect her from pouring hot coffee on herself. When she grabs cups off the table then I discipline her. It is a necessity. My disciplining her is protecting her from burning her face. I want to protect her because I love her. I want to protect her because Jesus gave her to me as my daughter, and me to her as her daddy. "Elizabeth, obey your daddy. Do not grab cups off the table."

I know when I protect my daughter that I am doing what Jesus has called me to do. Therefore, I am not only expressing my love for her, I am expressing Jesus’ love for her, too. My command for her to obey rests on this.

“Elizabeth, obey your daddy" is another way of saying "Elizabeth, trust that Jesus knows what's best for you and that he has made me your daddy for your good."

The fundamental issue in those eye-to-eye moments about cups on the table are not so much commands for her obedience, but calls for her faith.

Jonathan Parnell (@jonathanparnell) is a writer and content strategist at Desiring God. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Melissa, and their four children, and is the co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary .