Rick Warren: Non-believers have misconception that Christians obey God out of fear or obligation

Screenshot of Rick Warren as he talks about people's purpose on Earth | Purpose Driven official website

Most non-believers think Christians obey God out of fear or obligation but Pastor Rick Warren wants to correct this misconception. Instead of fear or obligation, it is out of love that Christians are able to obey God, the pastor says.

"God doesn't want you to obey him because you're afraid of him," Warren wrote on Thursday, May 26 on the Daily Devotional column of his website.

"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," the pastor continued.

The best-selling author and popular pastor of Saddleback Church shared his own experience as a teenager, when a guy told him that he was "restricted" because of his Christian faith and "couldn't do all the fun stuff the rest of us do."

The teenager Warren then corrected the guy's misconception. He said he told the guy that he could actually do all those fun stuff that he was referring to such as taking drugs, getting drunk, and sleeping with many women.

However, Warren wrote, "Jesus changed my 'want to.'"

"They are cheap, phony thrills that seem to give a temporary kick to life but then they kick back," explained Warren.

He further noted that these things only look like freedom but that they don't last and only lead to despair instead of dignity or to depression instead of delight.

According to the pastor, what the guy told him when he was still in high school is something most non-believers get wrong. Non-believers think that Christians only follow God out of fear or obligation.

Warren poses the question, why do Christians really obey God?

"Because he loves us!" Warren penned the answer. "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."

To cite samples, Warren said it's the same love working among Christians when they choose to turn away from the devil, live a selfless life, and follow Christ's commandments. This makes an obvious connection to the pastor's chosen opening Bible verse of John 15:14 where Jesus calls those who follow his commandments as his friends.