Colossians 3:20: “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.”
To the question, “What does God require in the fifth commandment,” the Catechism answers, “That I show all honour, love and fidelity, to my father and mother and all in authority over me, and submit myself to their good instruction and correction with due obedience....”
Due obedience is required of a thankful Christian. There is an obedience exercised by those who are not Christians. Asian culture is noted forhonour toward those in authority. Many non-Christian Asians who come to theUnited States are appalled at the lack of respect for authority that is observed in America today. In many Asian cultures, respect for elders is held as the honourable way of life, and words such as authority, obedience, orderand discipline are recognized as pillars of society. Yet, even though non-Christians might exercise obedience to those in authority over them, their obedience is not that which is due to God, because they do not acknowledge God as the Source of that authority.
We who are in Christ Jesus cannot be satisfied with that kind of obedience. We cannot, because such obedience fails to fulfill the law of love that is at the heart of God’s precepts — love for God, which also comes to expression in love for our neighbor.
Still more, there is an obedience which does its duty grudgingly, against one’s will — a forced obedience. That is the obedience that we perform when we do what we are told, but despise being told what to do. Sometimes we can even obey without complaining, but our obedience is a calculated attempt to please man. It serves only our selfish motivations and attempts to promote self. That also fails to fulfill what is required of us in the fifth commandment.
The expression of thankfulness to God is an expression of love. Due obedience comes to expression in honour, love and fidelity — toward God. We are to live as those who are in Christ. To us for whom Christ has fulfilled the law, the emphasis is now upon the Christian life as a life of sanctification, a life of being in the Lord, and therefore a life by which we express our thankfulness to the God of our salvation.