(It’s a simple rule for a revolutionary life!)
Most of us would like to think of ourselves as followers of Jesus, but what does that really mean, practically?
Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23. Simply put, it’s trusting Jesus enough to say “no” to what we want, and “yes” to what he wants. So, then why is it we don’t obey him more often than we do?
Years ago I noticed that during the course of my day I’d have these impressions to do something I was reasonably certain Jesus wanted me to do. It could be an impression to either do something good for someone or a warning about a sin I was about to commit. It might be to stop for a car broken down on the highway, speak to a co-worker about Jesus, or simply turn off my computer before I ended up at a site where no Christian should go.
Almost simultaneously I would sense another voice whispering to me. “You don’t have time to do that – helping that person could get messy – you can’t afford to help them right now – it’s okay, one more time won’t kill you – send it, you’ve been wronged!”
If I listened to this other voice and thought about it long enough, the moment for obedience would pass, often to my relief. It finally dawned on me that by procrastinating, I was unintentionally teaching myself the habit of disobedience. Why is that?
Because I knew that almost every decision to obey would cost me something – time, money, embarrassment, inconvenience, or a momentary pleasure denied – something! By choosing not to obey Jesus, I could avoid all of that! As a result, I found myself settling for good enough almost daily – which is kryptonite for any would-be followers of Jesus!
Then a decade ago a lay pastor from China taught me a simple rule that helped me break that cycle:
(and do it immediately before you change your mind!)
“If you love me, you will obey what I command.”
But, how do we know what Jesus wants us to do, exactly?
God hasn’t ever spoken to me audibly, so I’m not talking of actually hearing voices. However, I’ve found that the more I study the teachings and character of Jesus, the more confident I’ve become moving in spontaneous, simple obedience to the opportunities he sends my way. It’s his life, and the Holy Spirit reminding me of everything he did and taught that gives him this voice.
Can we always be sure? No. The Rule doesn’t require you to be absolutely certain an impression is from God before you obey. In fact, I’ve found that the need for certainty is often the enemy of obedience! But, let’s just say this impression wasn’t from God. So what? You’ve still done something good for another human or kept yourself from sinning. How can that not be the will of God?
But, here’s what discourages many of us. We know that there is absolutely no way we can ever hope to surrender to the will of God perfectly, every day, for the rest of our life. And, none of us want to chase an impossible dream. But here’s the power behind The Rule; even though absolute surrender is impossible, doing the next thing I’m reasonably certain Jesus wants me to do, isn’t! I can do that! And, so can you.
So, The Rule gives you a place to begin again following Jesus, right now – today, if you’ve drifted spiritually. It’s following Jesus made simple and being led by Jesus, moment by moment, day by day (or even in the next 10 seconds!).
And, it’s been the experience of Christians since the time of Jesus that true godly character is forged less by a few, big dramatic decisions than the cumulative impact of thousands of small acts of simple obedience.
The 10 Second Rule book is full of all kinds of stories of ordinary men and women who are living by The Rule and how it has shaped and transformed their lives. In it I share practical ideas for discerning God’s will, recognizing his voice, and studying Scripture so you can gain greater confidence in knowing what Jesus would do if he encountered the challenges of living your life in the 21st century.
Living by The Rule is how we train ourselves to be godly men and women. It’s a call to rediscover the revolutionary power of the simple gospel message as Jesus taught it, the early church lived it, and before religious Christianity tamed it!
Clare De Graaf
Author of The 10 Second Rule
Published by Simon and Schuster (Howard Books)