You can control the body of a person if you are stronger but not their mind and heart. When force and pain is involved, obedience on the outside can happen but you are likely to have bitterness and anger and fear on the inside. I see this as only half hearted obedience. You can’t force someone to obey and cooperate with their heart. You can inspire them to be on your team and to trust you and to want to please you.
Jesus said “if you love me, you will obey me.” He is God. He could’ve said, “I will strike you down dead if you don’t obey!” He could have chosen to control our minds even and force complete submission to him. He could have even said, “if you fear my power, you will obey.” But why did he say, “if you LOVE me”?
If I truly love God, I will obey Him because I want to please Him. All He has to do is tug on my heart to correct me, and I am quick to apologize and change. What a beautiful thing a heart of obedience is! It is a heart that wants to do what is right.
God has given us free will. He lets us go our own way but His love is wooing us to Him. It just wouldn’t be love if we were forced to obey.
It is by love that my children will obey me with their hearts and bodies. Of course they can choose to disobey. But their power to choose makes their obedience such a beautiful thing. When my son obeys me I know it is from a heart of love and trust and that he is slowly learning self-control. This makes me feel very pleased with him and happy that we have such a good relationship.