Ugh! We demand it but don't want to do it ourselves. We want obedience from our children, employees, and politicians. But heaven forbid we obey our parents, husbands, or even God Himself.
A Bible study* I was working through reminded me that we need to obey God. OK...so I thought I was doing a good job. Jesus said in John 14:21 “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.” I follow the 10 Commandments...I love Jesus. I don't worship other gods. I don't take the Lord's name in vain, usually. I keep the Sabbath by going to church. I pretty much honor my father and mother. I've never killed anyone or committed adultery. I don't steel anything from stores. I don't recall ever lying about my neighbor and I am basically happy with what I have. So far so good, right? I'm not perfect and I'll be the first to admit that I sometimes (okay often) fall short, but I thought I was doing pretty well with following Jesus' commands.
The lesson then turned to King Josiah. You may not have heard of Josiah before. His reign is buried in the book of 2 Kings, for about 2 chapters, right between his father and his son who both abandoned and did evil in the sight of the Lord. But Josiah was different. He found the Book of the Law, read it, and realized that he was making choices that were against God's law. From then on he obeyed God until his death. He destroyed everything to do with idols and “other gods.” and he required the people and priests of Judah to do the same. King Josiah was decisive, thorough, and radical in his obedience to God. Then the study asked, “Are you willing to be as radical when the Bible exposes wrong choices you may be making?”
Whoa...wait...slow down...me? I follow the commandments don't I? So why did this question make me feel so uneasy?
I was reminded that I have a section in my prayer journal that is filled with a list of things that I have felt in the past that God wanted me to do. Some simple...Read the book of Job, pray more. Some that made my stomach turn...repair relationships, apologize for damage you may have caused. I was led to reread them.
I realized that these are my PERSONAL commands from God...they were God SPEAKING to me. Not that I didn't know that before, but it hit me so hard. The blow was even harder when I took note of how many I had not followed through on (most of them).
How have I responded to God's commands? Am I willing to be radical? Am I obedient?
Not so much...I had come face to face with the realization that I was the “rocky soil” from the parable of the seeds in Matthew 13:18-23. The seeds were sewn, I heard God speaking to me through His Word in church or Bible study, but it was forgotten and put off. I had not allowed God's personal messages to me to take root and so the seed died. I never before felt like I was being rebellious in not following through on these requests.
But I was.
I was not being obedient to the God of the universe, after he personally spoke to me. As I look back, it was a passive unwillingness to obey my God. But a rebellion all the same...a rebellion that I could no longer hold onto.
And so this is a new beginning of obedience. Literally, because to begin writing again was one of God's commands in my journal (actually He had given me this command twice). Obedience that is hard. Obedience that (as I type this) makes my stomach turn. But I know that God will bless me and give me greater freedom as I become a doer of His Word, and not a hearer only (James 1:22-25).
Reflect upon your own response to God...Has He put something on your heart that you are supposed to do (or not do)? Are you willing to be radical, if needed, to observe His commands? I challenge you to step out in obedience and see where God takes you.
*Tara Furman, Created for Purpose, Making a Difference in your Corner of the World, Knowing God Ministries, 2013