During this coming week of teaching at the school just outside Beijing, I will be teaching the character quality of obedience. While at home preparing the lesson plan, God was using the lesson to remind me about what obedience really is, and how we should obey God. It’s made me think about the fact that often, we don’t obey God the way we would obey any other authority, and He is so much more worthy of our obedience than any other! In the curriculum, there are five “I Will” statements that go along with each character quality. For obedience, the “I Will” statements are:
1. I will obey my authorities immediately.
2. I will have a cheerful attitude.
3. I will complete all that I am expected to do.
4. I will go the extra mile.
5. I will not obey a wrong command.
I will obey my authorities immediately.
Wow, I know I have not followed this principle over and over again. When I hear His still, small voice in my heart prompting me to speak up or step out, 99% of the time I have tried to put it off, make an excuse, or wait for the opportunity to disappear. And while I save myself from discomfort and possible awkwardness, the regrets that come are worse than the fear. How different would life be if I immediately obeyed God, His voice, and His Word?
I will have a cheerful attitude.
This reminds me of the passage in which Jesus talks about how when we fast, we should not make it obvious to others what we are sacrificing, but should wash our faces and have a cheerful countenance. Once we make it past the first step of actually obeying God, so often we will remind Him of how much we’re sacrificing to do His will. But in reality, the sacrifice comes when we give up the eternal rewards of serving God in order to serve ourselves. Let’s remember how privileged we are to obey the Almighty Father we have.
I will complete all that I am expected to do.
Now, the gospel clearly tells us that we cannot complete everything God has asked. We’re imperfect, and that’s the whole point of the gospel. But do we even try anymore? There are so many commands in the Bible such as, “care for the widows and orphans,” “rejoice and be glad,” “do not swear,” “store up treasures in heaven,” “do not worry,” “watch and pray,” “love one another,” “do not be afraid.” Some people feel that trying to obey all God’s commands is just not worth it, because we know we’ll fail anyway. But read that short list again, and think of how full a life we would live if we truly obeyed just those few. If we claim to be followers of Christ, that faith will be demonstrated by our willingness to obey, and our diligence as we strive to complete all that we are expected to do.
I will go the extra mile.
This is one I am passionate about. As many of my friends can tell you, I have a “better safe than sorry” policy on my spiritual life. Essentially, I would rather go overboard for Jesus than end my life and enter eternity with regrets. Jesus gives us commands that we’re often unsure about, such as, “whoever does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple,” “sell everything you own, then come follow Me,” “go and make disciples of all nations,” or “do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth.” We talk so much about interpretation, translation, time period, and context. Yes, those things are important. But as for me, I’d rather just obey it. Like I’ve said before, when I meet Jesus face to face, He won’t say, “Shelby, you were too crazy about me. You didn’t have to do that.” I don’t want Him to have to say, “Why didn’t you just do what I said?” In the end, I just want Him to say, “Well done.” Rather then err on the side of our comfort and convenience, let’s obey God not just in what is clear, but let’s go the extra mile as well. What do we have to lose that is really worth keeping?
I will not obey a wrong command.
Praise God that He is a Father we can always trust. I absolutely love the fact that my faith allows me to place my entire life in His hands with no fear. So this “I Will” doesn’t speak of God, but of everyone else. We live in a culture that bombards us with wrong commands, large and small. From the temptations to waste our time to the encouragement of impurity, we are given wrong commands at every corner. But we will not obey. We need to stand up to those lies that tear us down as they pull us away from God. Take a minute to find out what the “wrong commands” are in your life; maybe it’s future career plans that are only of this world, maybe it’s a social standard you keep trying to meet that distracts you from Christ, maybe it’s the idea that you’re too busy to spend significant time with God. Whatever it is, it’s time for us to decide that we will no longer follow the pattern of this world. We will not obey.
I still have eleven days left here in China, and I hope that I will have the courage to be obedient immediately, cheerfully, completely, and even beyond what He asks. But when I come home, I don’t want that to change.
“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” John 14:15