Double Underoos and Perceived Obedience

Last night as I was getting my four year old son ready for bed we had an interesting exchange of words:

Me: “Why do you have two pairs of underwear on?”

Four Year Old: “This morning when I was asked to put on clean underwear I wanted to obey but I did not want to take off the old ones.”

Me: “Huh.”        Four Year Old: *Grin

It’s cute, I get it. This is the kind of story that parents love to share because it gets a good laugh and it shows just how witty our children can be (as of writing, this statement has 50 “likes” on Facebook). “Children say the darnedest things.” We have all heard it.

I don’t mean to assume that my son was attempting to deceive in any way, but as a Christian, a pastor, and a theologian, I cannot help but consider the spiritual implications of the case of the doubled Underoos. As I thought about the silliness of what two pairs of underwear looked like, I had to examine my own heart.

You know, we, even as grown-up Christians, sometimes have the same attitude. Sometimes we focus on the externals of obedience to Christ just so we can check the []I obeyed box. But what we fail to realize is that outward conformity to the law of God is not conformity, it is hypocrisy.

The Pharisees were masters of outward conformity. If the Bible called for the law to be always before their eyes, they made wooden verse plaques to wear on their forehead. If the Bible called for them to tithe, they got out the cinnamon and the oregano from the spice rack and dished out a tenth. If the Bible called for not working the Sabbath, they made sure not to push their chair back because it would make a mark in the dirt that you could plant seeds in. Outward obedience was the main focus in their spirituality.

Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23:27)

You see the Pharisees made sure to wear two pairs of Underoos so that they could keep the old ones on while obeying the command to put on new ones. The letter of the law was obeyed, but the spirit of the law was trampled all over.

As a Christian pastor I hear this same double Underoo spirit all the time.

“Pastor, How much can I get away with and still obey God?”

Have you ever thought that? Often the church wants to know what the bare minimum requirements are so that they can keep their status as Christian. What do I have to do so that I can check the [] I obeyed box?

We must throw off the Pharisee double Underoo spirit. Friends, if we love the Lord Jesus Christ we should desire to obey him. We should not ask how little we can do in order to show our love for Christ, but what else can I do to show love for Christ. We serve a God who has given us all things (including His only begotten Son)! In response to His love, we should give our whole being as servant-friends!

It’s time to take off the second pair of Underoos and get serious about obedience. If we love him, we will keep his commandments (John 14:15). The keeping of his commandments begins in the heart and works itself out. Out of the mouth we speak the things in the heart (Matthew 12:34). The same is true for obedience. Outward obedience begins in the heart out of gratitude for what Christ has done.

So take off the second pair of Underoos. It looks silly and it doesn’t fool anyone… especially Jesus.

2 Comments

  1. Joe Allyn January 9, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    Great article! Well said and well needed.

    Side note: I think you meant to end, “take off the first pair of Underoos and put back on the second pair.” Just sayin’.

  2. Ram Rao January 14, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    Seeking to obey externally, comes so easily for us. And not just us in the US. Growing up in India, I saw it there too, among Hindus and Muslims as well. Jesus’ teaching in the latter part of Matt 5 and the first part of Matt 6, addresses this head-on. Oh, that we would be God-pleasers rather than men-pleasers.

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