Summary: Obedience is like being pregnant. In the same way that it is impossible to be kind of pregnant, it is impossible to be kind of obedient.
Fan… or Follower?
A fan likes God when life is good.
A follower obeys God when life is hard.
We’ve been talking about what it takes to have a satisfied life.
In week one I talked about how important it was to be a giver if you want to experience a satisfied life. Spending, getting, keeping, saving, investing, begging, and gambling simply do not satisfy. They leave you hungering for more. Only giving produces the satisfied life. That’s because God made us in his image – and our God is HUGE giver. He is the giver of life and the source of all love. When we imitate God by following Jesus example in life the result is that we give until we are satisfied!
In week two we looked into the biggest challenge that we face in our giving – debt. In our attempts to find satisfaction with stuff and with experiences we’ve spent money we don’t have on things that we don’t need to impress people we don’t like only to discover that it doesn’t satisfy and to then figure out that we are stuck making payments for the next 4 years… so we can’t give to honor God with tithes and offerings. We already spent our future on ourselves. That needs to change! It changes by repenting and getting out of debt.
Last week, in week three, I shared some observations from Haggai and Malachi about the benefits and value of returning the tithe to God. Perhaps the most important thing that comes from tithing is that it produces showers of blessings. Not just a drizzle… we’re talking monsoon!
Today, we are going to look at a very simple and exceedingly difficult concept – obedience. It’s simple because there really aren’t any nuances. Either you are obedient or you aren’t.
Obedience is like being pregnant. In the same way that it is impossible to be kind of pregnant, it is impossible to be kind of obedient.
The difficulty comes because we are independent and have free will to obey or to resist. Often our pride leads us to be resistant and rebellious toward God even though accepting God’s plan and enjoying the security of obedience is far better for us.
In the book of 2 Kings there is a story that speaks to us all. It’s a story about a man who had to learn to be obedient to find a satisfied life in hard times.
1 Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the LORD had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor… but he was a leper.
This is a story of Hope, Realization and Obedience.
Here is a great man who is reduced to helplessness and isn’t that the way of our world? We want to believe that if we just have enough stuff we’ll escape our past limitations, be in control of our present circumstances, and chart our future destiny.
But life can reduce the greatest, the richest, and the most powerful person of influence to helplessness with a single word.
In the days of Naaman that word was “Leprosy.” 500 years ago it was the bubonic plague. 100 years ago it was “Tuberculosis.” 50 years ago it was “Polio.” Today the word is “Cancer.” Tomorrow, if we ever figure out how to beat cancer there will be another word.
Whatever the word – it can turn your world upside down in a matter of a few hours. Trust me, Donna and I know, as do we all, directly or through someone we know and love.
The fact is that cancer, polio, tuberculosis, the bubonic plague, and leprosy, like all diseases, are a product of evil. Not directly, mind you. Getting sick is not evidence that you have sinned. It’s evidence that we are a part of humanity and live under the curse of sin – which is death.
Jesus came to free us from this cursed body of sin and death. That’s why he came from heaven to earth, took the form of a man, lived among us for 33 years, and then allowed himself to be put to death on a cross and was then resurrected to a new life by the power of God through the Holy Spirit. By doing this he forged a path through death for every one of us. He cut and hacked his way through the jungle of death to life without end. To find this richly satisfying life all we need to do is to obey Him.
Obedience! Obedience means doing what you told even if you don’t understand why. It’s a test of faith, trust, and loyalty.
For Naaman it meant doing something that was simple, easy, and required nothing demanding. It also meant giving up control. The real challenge was not the act of obedience itself… it was the fierce pride stubborn independence that stood in the way.