The second of Christian George’s 11 Spiritual Disciplines is the Discipline of Obedience
OBEDIENCE: What Now?
My parents will attest to this, but I never wanted to obey growing up. In fact, we were given what mom called Chore Charts and I would do my best to make sure I avoided having to do those chores. When it came to school I lived in very similar rebellion, I knew the precepts set out in scripture, I’d been taught all about spiritual abuse, I knew I was a Pharisee, expecting others to obey what I thought they should while not obeying what God was telling me to do.
The best example of my insolence has to be my decision on where to go to college. I remember I was so drawn in by Indiana Wesleyan University, by the big atmosphere, the many majors to choose from. I shuddered at the thought that God might want me to go to a little town in Sterling, resisted it, fought against it. It didn’t make sense to me to go to a place so not-urban to study Urban Ministry. I learned though, that God is in the business of doing things that don’t make sense to us.
I battled, fought God’s will for most of the early years of my Christian walk, all the way up until the summer of my Junior Year of College, up until DUS and that fateful week of silence. Up until that point I wanted nothing to do with spiritual disciplines, obedience was far from the top of my priority list, I wanted more than anything to have my will, and my will was quickly failing me.
It makes sense to me, but it might not make sense to you, but we are actually much worse off when we disobey. Think about it this way, if the conductor of a train is told to head to a siding because there is a Freight coming, but disobeys that order because to him; “time is more important, and I’m behind schedule.” Then there are going to be dire consequences for not following that order.
When we choose to follow our wills over God’s, we can have similar incidents. If the wills of two people don’t line up, they will butt heads and friendships will suffer.
Obedience, especially to the will of God, will help us to avoid those incidents. Two people who are totally surrendered to the will of God will get done the work of the kingdom much quicker than two people who are trying to work their own plans into the kingdom. A great example of this can be found within the confines of the 10:31 Life Ministry Leadership Team. Because we all want the will of God in our lives and for this Ministry, God has given us the ability to work together, seeking after Him in prayer and devotional time. Because we see the need within the kingdom, and because we believe that God put this need on our hearts, we can move together, make decisions quickly and be effective workers for the kingdom.
Some might say at this point “Well that’s great for you, why should I obey?” The truth here is two-fold, the first is that Jesus obeyed, Take a look at Mark 1:35-39. Here, after one of the busiest days of Jesus Ministry the Messiah doesn’t sleep in. Instead it says “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus left the house and went out to solitary place and prayed” (v 31 NIV). So Jesus applies our first Discipline (Prayer), from his response to the Disciples found in verse 38 we can probably assume he spent that time seeking the will of the father. Because instead of staying “Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come” (NIV)
In the Garden of Gethsemane we .see another picture of Jesus praying, this time his words are actually recorded. Luke 22:42 gives us this prayer “Father if you are willing take this cup from me, yet not my will but yours be done” (NIV). Here Christ is resigning himself to the will of God, “not my will, but yours be done” if we only we would pray this prayer. If we are to be imitators of Christ (Phil. 2:5-11) then shouldn’t we seek the will of the father, then obey that will like Christ did? In my life, the answer is yes!
The second truth is that God wants to be good to us, again I go to scripture, to Romans 8:28. “And we know that God works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” We can take this to mean that all things will work for our good, if we are surrendered and willing to obey God’s purpose. When we are living in rebellion, disobeying God, we are not doing what He has called us to do, therefore who will it work out for us, most likely not to our liking or benefit.
But when we surrender to God, when we obey, we begin to discover His heart and we are blessed by Him for our obedience. Situations still might not work out to our liking, but God uses those moments to teach us something about Himself and about ourselves, to mold and shape us into His image, so we defiantly benefit. Since I’ve surrendered God has allowed my friendships to grow exponentially, I haven’t been blessed with financial means, but with relational means, something more valuable than money. Not that God doesn’t bless people in other ways, indeed He will bless each of us according to His will.
Prayer and Obedience go hand in hand, we must pray to know the will of God, to discover His direction for our lives. Then once we know that direction, we have to act on it, or face the consequences.
God’s intent is not to destroy us, but if we are disobeying, habitually rebelling He will eventually get our attention, sometimes in unpleasant ways. This breaking is good for us, and I pray if you are experiencing that right now that you let God lead you through it, trust me, the end result is far better than your current situation.
So I challenge you to stop fighting, lay down your will and seek out and practice obedience to the will of God. Dear friends, it will go great for us as we seek to be imitators of Christ.