Can we “farm out” obedience?

farming out

Some farmers hand off crop growth and management to other people, leasing their land and allowing others to actually do the planting, fertilizing, harvesting, and marketing. For many it is a good deal. But can you do that with obedience to God? J.D. Greear in his recent book entitled “Gaining by Losing” raised this very question. He said: “You can’t farm out obedience… [for instance to]… the Ten Commandments by saying ‘I don’t feel like being truthful. Will you do that for me?'” He went on to observe that a church cannot “farm out” the great commission either.

Whether we are talking about personal obedience or a church’s task of Gospel proclamation, we cannot pass on the necessity of our obedience to someone else. Sometimes I see this in families. The thinking is that my brother-in-law is active in the church, so that gives me some credit. I have had people who do not know Jesus say to me after sharing the Gospel with them something like this: My grandfather was a minister. I just stare at them. I want to respond: So…what are you saying? …that relationship ought to be good enough for God? Yet “YOU must be born again” is what the Bible declares in John 3. No, according to God’s Word you can’t farm that out to someone else.

Think of the church. There are a lot of parachurch organizations out there. I am thankful for many of them. But here’s the thing. God gave what we call “The Great Commission” [Go…Make Disciples- Matt. 28] to the church. The church can’t farm out its responsibility to do missions by giving money and people to a group to do it for them. The church can partner with others to help them but never should a church relinquish their responsibility for missions to another. For many this will require a change of thinking that will realign the task of missions to the Biblical framework for the church]. Personally & corporately, we cannot farm out obedience! Think it thru