True obedience is not a slavish submission to another against ones will. This sort of obedience is that of the law and unprofitable for salvation. Rather obedience is the process of becoming one mind with another. It is accepting another’s will as your own will. It is a willing submission; not forced but free. This is obedience in Christ.
Nevertheless, we must be obedient to God but we must do so willingly. To unite to God we must become of one will as He. “Not my will but Thy will.” We must die to our own desires and accept those of God as ours. Then His will be become our will and our will will be His will. He will give us whatever we desire because whatever we desire will be what He desires. Also, we will be truly free because only God is truly free. His freedom becomes ours. Obedience is freedom, dying to our will means receiving all that we desire. The unfathomable Mysteries of God!
To love God is to obey Him because love seeks the desires of the other as one’s own. Truly obeying God is to love Him because we only freely give ourselves to those we love.
As in all the Orthodox life, obedience must be incarnate. We obey God in those He has set over us. Monastics obey their superiors, children their parents, wives their husbands, citizens to rulers, laity the Bishops and the Bishops the Apostles, in the Holy Tradition by means of the Doctrines and Canons, the testimonies of God’s will.
We obey in all things because we obey God in all things. He is all in all. We obey in Christ and obey those over us as Christ. Notwithstanding the totality of obedience, obedience to those set over us is the incarnation of obedience to Christ, to God. Thus, we are not obliged to obey things that are contrary to the will of Christ. Such a command is no longer in Christ as the command is no longer an icon of Christ’s command. Nevertheless, we must not allow this as an excuse for self-will.
Obedience is free and it is never forced. Those in authority but love as Christ, who forces no-one to faith or virtue. If obedience is not given freely then it is of no benefit. One may teach and exhort but never force, otherwise one is longer exercising the authority in Christ and is in effect exercising no authority because there is no authority outside Christ.