Almost everything God ever commanded or Jesus ever taught is counter-intuitive, even to born-again Christians. “Pass through the Red Sea, do not covet, trust my promises to bring you into the Promised Land, love your enemies, forgive 70×7, love others as much as you love yourself, no one comes to the Father but through me, today you will be with me in paradise.” I’ve read the beatitudes and thought to myself, “I cannot imagine doing all the things Jesus commanded consistently, and on occasions, I’ve have just plain given up and given in to some unspiritual impulse.” Obedience is hard!
Why? Why is it so hard to believe and obey God? What does my failure to obey God tell him about me?
When I don’t obey God, as a practical matter here’s what I’m telling him “I don’t trust you. I cannot see how what you’re asking me to do will turn out well for me.” Or, “In given that command, you must have an exception for my peculiar situation.” Oh, we’d never say that in so many words. But can you think of any other reason why we’d not obey God?
When our children were small and I asked them to do something, it sometimes drove me nuts when they asked, “Why?” “Because I told you so” is the fall back position of all parents when we reach a certain level of frustration. We expect our children to trust us, that we have a reason beyond their young understanding for asking them to do whatever. God gets frustrated with his children as well. However, he too, at the end of the day, says to us “because I told you so!”
There are times God explains “why.”
“See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.” Deuteronomy 30:15-18
Jesus himself dares to make obedience the litmus test of whether or not we love God.
“If you love me, keep my commands.” John 14:15
And Jesus taught his disciples; “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,” 1 John 5:2-3
Obedience is worship to God.
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” Romans 12:1
God says obedience brings joy (in the end).
“Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.” Psalms 119:1
So, my advice is the same, I try to remember for myself, the next time you are convicted by Scripture or the Holy Spirit to do something that makes no sense to you, imagine God speaking to you these words. “Trust me and do it child because I said so.”
How following Jesus works in real life.
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