Tag Archive: obedience


comfort

Let me disclaim this right at the outset – this is not something i have sorted. This is something i wrestle with. Because being comfortable is relative. My ‘simple’ is another person’s ‘luxury’ and my ‘lavish’ is someone else’s ‘scraping by’.

Which is perhaps why we should not be the ones defining comfortable, enough, simplicity et al. That feels like an area where we strongly need to be led by the Holy Spirit as the Bible is not clear in terms of how this looks within the specifics of modern day life and context.

But this is a topic which raised its ugly head again for me this week and i can’t think of a specific example that brought it to the fore. Just a bunch of things i’ve been reading and thinking about i guess.

My theory is this: Many christians that i know choose comfort over obedience.

And they do it in such a way that suggests that this is the Godly way to go about stuff. As if God wants us to be comfortable.

Time and time again, i am dumbfounded by people who can read the bible and see something one way again and again and again and yet somehow end up with the belief that a Godly reality is otherwise.

FOR EXAMPLE

Jesus meets up with a young man [Matthew 19] and tells him that he will have to sell everything he has in order to be a follower. The young man walks away disappointed because he has great wealth.

Jesus has a meal with Zacchaeus [Luke 19] and Zachaeus responds by telling Jesus he will immediately give half of his possessions to the poor and pay back four times the amount to anyone he has cheated.

Jesus is hanging out at a dinner party shortly before He is arrested [John 12] and a woman comes in and pours perfume, worth a year’s wages, over His feet too symbolically prepare Him for burial.

In Matthew 8, a teacher of the law tells Jesus he wants to follow Him and Jesus responds by saying that “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Another disciple has the request of burying his father before he follows Jesus who responds, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

In Matthew 10, Jesus speaks these uncomforting words: ‘You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.’

How is it possible to read those stories [and others, see the Beatitudes for a long list of more] and come to the conclusion that God is calling us to comfort. Before Justice. Or Mercy. Or Disciple-Making. Or Love.

Or Obedience…

WE HAVE CHOSEN COMFORT OVER OBEDIENCE

In 1 Samuel 15, Saul has disobeyed God’s command on how to deal with a city in the interests of creating a burned offering for God. So it seems, for a minute, that his intentions are good.

22 But Samuel replied:

“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.
23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
    and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
    he has rejected you as king.”

To obey is better than sacrifice.

In Matthew 5 we see that making peace with someone is a bigger priority than offering a gift to the Lord.

i’m not so sure that being comfortable is bad. i don’t think i’m saying that.

But when it comes at the expense of obedience or other things Jesus calls us to…

When it becomes the thing we firmly set our eyes on above all other…

Well then i am saying, that we need to be doing some wrestling and heart-searching and Jesus-following, so that we don’t end up one day standing in front of God with Him looking at us and saying, “I never knew you.” [Matthew 7]

Anyone else wrestling with this? Any thoughts you have on either comfort or obedience? i would love to hear about it in the comments… 

[To take a look at some of my favourite verses in the bible, click here]

a maze in grace

there is a well-known story of a woman who is brought before Jesus for committing adultery.

the crowd and the religious leaders are bloodthirsty and ready to stone her [they have even selected their weapons of choice] when Jesus intervenes and turns the whole circus court on its head and the crowd melts away until it is just Jesus and the woman.

“Has anyone condemned you?”

“No? Well then neither do I.”

And we love this story. We drink it up. We preach great sermons on grace and forgiveness and ask the pointed questions of, “Well where was the man cos surely it takes two people to…”

 

i was thinking this evening about ‘obedience’ – it’s a much harder sell, isn’t it?

it feels like ‘obedience’ has been locked away with all the negative manipulationary ways of ‘getting people to follow Jesus’ like the warning about hell and damnation if you don’t… no, today we have to invite people into a relationship. and there needs to be a strong emphasis on grace.

“Has anyone condemned you?”

“No? Well then neither do I.”

 

the idea of obedience has been bouncing around in my mind over the last few years, never too seriously to do too much about in terms of speaking or writing about it, but just from time to time it raises its head as something we should perhaps be taking more seriously.

we call Jesus King don’t we? or Lord? Lord of our lives. Master… teacher… rabbi… the one we follow.

‘If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’ [Luke 9.23]

it’s kinda there in the contract.

which too many people have watered down in the name of a badly defined grace at times.

because while there is the lack of condemnation exchange between Jesus and the woman, that is not where it ends.

there is also the call to ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’

which in essence is the call to obedience.

to God-following-ness.

to deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow me.

 

you see, it IS about grace – the gift is absolutely free, so that no one can boast.

but the acceptance of the gift initiates the call to obedience, which costs absolutely everything.

and ‘complete surrender to God’ [His ways, His plan for our lives, His kingdom] is something that we just don’t talk about enough these days

maybe [we’re all too busy fighting about the definition of ‘a real man’?]

so we can get tripped up by our incessant grasping of this idea of grace as we’ve imagined it to be, as opposed to what it actually is

 

a free gift into a life of obedience, following a holy and awesome God who is completely worthy of that type of commitment

what are your thoughts on obedience? and what it means in the life of one who follows Jesus?

 

 

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