Samuel said, "Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams." (1 Samuel 15:22 NAS)
One of the first lessons I learnt as a new Christian was 'to obey is better than sacrifice'. At the age of 15, I was faced with the dilemma to obey God or Man concerning water baptism. I knew if I decide to obey God and be baptized, I would have to disobey my parents who are ardent 'buddhists' (taoists). If I have asked for permission, my parents would have objected to the proposition, and if they know the date of the baptism, they would lock me up and barred me from ever getting involved with Christianity again. I am after all just a youth under their governance, legally underage to make such a serious decision.
Troubled over this matter, I sought help from my pastor who counseled me and advised me 'to obey is better than sacrifice' (1 Samuel 15:22). What he meant then was if obedience to God is such a great sacrifice to me, then I should not go ahead with water baptism until I am ready to willingly give myself to God. I chose then to skip my first opportunity to obey God in water baptism.
My disobedience to God pricked me over the next few months because my heart was yearning to serve God in the student ministry, but without obedience in water baptism, it is impossible for me to serve Him whole-heartedly. It then came clear to me that although salvation is received the moment I trust in Christ, water baptism is still a necessary step for the outward expression of my obedience as a witness to self and to the public, without which the world will not recognize me as a Christian. So I pondered and read the Scriptures to find out what it has to say about obedience to parents.
For God said, `HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,' and, `HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH.' (Matthew 15:4 NAS)
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and mother (which is the first commandment with promise), that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. (Ephesians 6:1-3 NAS)
If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, that will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and, though they chasten him, will not hearken unto them; then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; (Deuteronomy 21:18-19 NAS)
The verses quoted above are clear. Obedience to parents is God's command, and if a son disobeys, he is as a stubborn and rebellious son deserving chastening. Does this therefore mean I should obey my parents and forget about water baptism? May it never be! What Ephesians 6:1 means is to obey your parents IN THE LORD, by first obeying God.
So when the next baptism came, I chose to disobey my parents and went ahead with water baptism in obedience to my heavenly Father. The aftermath was not smooth sailing when I finally told my parents and persecution breaks out which lasted several years before they accept me for what I believe.
Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10 NAS)
The route of obedience to God is not easy. Whether as a youth or an adult, there is often a price to pay when you choose to obey God. Honor God and God will give you honor (1 Samuel 2:30; John 12:26). If you seek first His kingdom, He will bless you and provide you with all your needs (Matthew 6:33).
... choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah. (Joshua 24:15 NAS)
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