Is obedience to God still an expectation of one who has been set free from all expectations ?
I don’t think it’s possible to answer that question adequately without a deep revelation of the magnitude of God’s love and the astounding sacrifice Christ made for us. Without these, any answer will contain a trace of the law, it will contain a need to satisfy a God who is already completely satisfied.
It is interesting to observe the perspective Jesus has in the book of John 6:38; “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me” and John 14:24; “The words which you hear are not mine, but the Father’s which sent me”. Jesus was uniquely qualified to respond to the Father, he understood the magnitude of the Father’s love for him ~ this revelation gave him the security required to surrender his whole being to the Father without reservation… in fact the Father expressed His complete pleasure in Christ at His baptism, before He had even set about His ministry, when He declared; “this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”.
When one discovers that their security in God is unshakeable, that His love is unconditional, and that His presence is unquenchable… then obedience takes on a whole new meaning. It becomes the choice of a free will that no longer has to satisfy God in any way. A God who can never be angry again, never be dissatisfied, never ever to judge you again… can be obeyed in a brand new way, it’s called “letting go” yielding to the greatest love in the universe… it’s not so much obedience as joyful surrender. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain from this divine obedience ~ who wouldn’t want to do it.
Many consider the transition from law to grace as being like “the carrot and the stick”, they view the law as a stick of punishment that they must obey without choice, and grace as the carrot of reward that they can obey if they choose. In fact, life in the Spirit is so superior to both of these that it bears no resemblance at all; life in Christ means that we have the reward whether we obey or not ~ and then we face a previously unheard-of invitation ~ “come and obey just because you can, just because you are free… allow yourself to fall into my goodness by surrendering every fibre of your being to me, just because you have discovered my love expressed at the cross“.
There is no fear in this new grace based obedience, there is no possibility of retribution, no un-voiced disapproval ~ it is motivated by the purest motivation possible ~ the wonder of Him, the sheer joy of living from His divine presence that abides in us forever, without measure.