Some of the characteristics of Christ are easy to want.
To be kind, generous, honest, courageous—these are things many aspire to, whether they are followers of Christ, or not.
Obedience though…obedience doesn’t have that same attraction.
At first glance, obedience looks like the opposite of what we want to be as humans—free, independent, able to make our own decisions and live our own lives. But, if you look closer, you see that obedience to God doesn’t steal your destiny from you; it actually assists you in achieving it.
How was Jesus obedient, and how do we apply that in our lives?
Well, Jesus was obedient to death (Philippians 2:8).
Imagine being obedient to God, even though it means dying a terrible and shameful death. It doesn’t sound very appealing. However, in order to understand the significance of obedience, we have to look at the whole perspective:
For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. – Romans 5:19
Because Jesus chose to obey God and die on the cross, the path has been opened for all to be saved from the penalty of disobedience.
If we look even closer at the events after the death of Jesus, we see His resurrection and entry into glory, by which His death on the cross pales in comparison. His murder, an ugly act of great injustice, was the catalyst of what is the greatest miracle of all—eternal life through Christ for all who reach for it.
Dying is quite extreme though, isn’t it? Surely God doesn’t expect us all to die for him?
Well, in one sense… yes, He does.
We are all sinners; we have acted wrongly, against the will of God; we have hurt one another; we have been malicious, jealous, angry, unforgiving. Yet, because Jesus obeyed God, took our sins upon Himself, and died in our stead, we have been given an invitation to repent and walk under the banner of His righteousness, forgiven.
God calls us to repent, to fall at His feet and ask for His forgiveness. Our first act of obedience to God is to obey this call to repentance. And when we do, the sinful past self is dead, and a new person in Christ is born. To obey God is to die to sin and live renewed in His righteousness.
But obedience doesn’t stop at the point of salvation. As Christians, we are called to obey. We must humble ourselves and be willing to serve. And yes, it’s really hard.
But remember to look at the bigger picture.
When you feel persecuted because of your choice to follow Christ, remember that you are loved, that you have been found, you are safe, you will be with Him in heaven. That your obedience to Him will make you stronger in faith, full of the Holy Spirit, and a partaker in His glory. Your obedience is a catalyst for miracles, just like it was for Jesus. He is the benchmark that we must aspire to.
Sometimes things are so difficult that we beg God to take the problem away; there’s no shame in wanting a burden to be lifted.
Even Jesus prayed for relief in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-44) –
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again.
Imagine being so upset and so alone, not being supported or understood by your closest friends at your greatest moment of need, knowing that a gruesome and painful death was ahead. It’s not surprising that Jesus asked God for a way out.
Yet, He still obeyed. He still did what had to be done. And He did it because He loved us. He did it because of the bigger picture. Because He knew the ultimate result of obedience to God is not death, but life.
Many of us will not have to die for what we believe (though some still do).
Our acts of obedience to God will come as we go about our daily activities, at work, at home, and at school.
Throughout the New Testament, Christ gives us many commandments to obey, but He does narrow it down for us in Matthew 26:36-40:
Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.
It all comes down to loving God and loving others. By doing these things, we are obeying God.
So, as you go ahead with your day, remember to live in obedience to Him and watch and see as He uses your actions to bring life and restoration to all those around you.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.