Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What if...? The Greatest Hinderance to Obedience

It's been used and misused so often, it's become
cliche, as have those of us who wear it. The phrase: What Would Jesus Do. I'm certain it started as a powerful, heartfelt urging to truly live out the sentiments implied by the phrase. And I think most of us still want to. Oh, to live our lives completely surrendered to Christ!

So what stops us?

Most times, I believe, it's the unknown that holds us back. The what if. And what fuels the what ifs? Most often, selfishness. This almost innate urging within us to strive and grasp for blessings and promotions and material things, as if that's the only way our needs will be met.

This isn't new. This urge to grab hold of things started long ago in the Garden of Eden when Eve, ignoring the abundance--the immense grace!--all around her, decided it wasn't enough. Not only was it not enough, but she had to grab hold of that one thing she felt she was missing, stating in essence that God couldn't or wouldn't provide for her. That He'd withhold something good, something amazing, from her.

The result? She got what she wanted, and she found, in grasping for that thing, she lost the abundance she'd been freely given.

Every time I grab and grasp and strive, whether it be for something as little as that place in the grocery line or that last piece of chocolate (eek!) or something more personal like prestige or respect, I'm doing the same thing. I'm ignoring the amazing grace provided for me on the cross so I can chase after lesser things. In essence I'm saying I don't trust God to give me what I need; that I don't truly believe His grace is enough.

It's as if I've completely lost site of eternity and the price He paid to get me there. Moreover, when I give in to self, whether my act is big or small, I'm distorting the beauty of grace. But when I choose to offer my whole self to Christ, dying to self, as the Bible calls it, I reveal the life-changing power of the Resurrection.

Holy week, I began reading In His Steps by Charles Monroe Sheldon, and in it, the pastor challenges his congregation to ask themselves this question each day. He challenged them to "earnestly and honestly for an entire year, not to do anything without first asking the question, 'What would Jesus do?' And after asking that question, each one will follow Jesus as exactly as he knows how, no matter what the results may be.'" (Pg. 14)

A simple question, and one I imagine we'd all agree we need to be asking. But it's the ending of the pastor's challenge that makes it difficult. Uncomfortable.

When I read that passage, my heart quickened . "Yes, Lord! I want to do that!" I prayed. But then my rational side began to take over, leading me down all the what ifs in various areas of my life. I'd lay them out, but I imagine you have a few what ifs of your own. I hadn't gotten far on my anxiously speculating journey, however, when another thought came, this one quite convicting: Do I really trust God with my life? And regardless of what happens or where He leads me, do I really love Him more than all of these, whatever those these may be?

Still pondering all of this, I went to church on Sunday where I was reminded of my Savior's crucifixion.

Photo by bela_kiefer taken from freedigitalphotos.net
Which he endured for me.

And for you.

Suddenly, all my what ifs lost momentum. Because the cross changes everything.

I pray God will help me keep the cross on the forefront of my mind, that He will burn within me a passion that overrides any tendency toward selfishness or apathy, so that I can, daily, live out the words of Romans 12:1, in which Paul urges me, no pleads with me, in view of God's mercy, in view of the life Christ shed for me, to give my body (my mind, my will, my heart, my actions, my deepest needs) to God because of all He has done for me. That will be my living and holy sacrifice--the kind He will find acceptable. For that is truly the way to worship Him.

In view of God's mercy... That's a powerful, convicting phrase, isn't it?

What about you? What do you believe to be your greatest hinderance to surrendered obedience? How does remembering Christ's death on the cross help? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and don't forget to sign up for our free quarterly newsletter!

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  1. What a wonderful post, Jennifer, and oh so true. Obedience is better than sacrifice. A song He gave me has this part in it "For to walk in obedience is what I long to do. For to walk in obedience shows how much I love you." Our obedience is our love song to Him! Thank you for posting!

    1. I love that, Caryl! Did you right it yourself? I'd love to read the whole song, if you ever wanted to share. :) And amen! Just like Romans 12:1 says. Offering our whole self to Him *is* our acceptable form of worship. :)

  2. Great post Jennifer. Obedience is what it is all about. The more we grow in faith, the more we trust in Him. It's not always about what we want or think is best for us, but what He wants. Obedience is so important and follows on the heels of asking and listening for His voice. Great reminder.

    1. I really loved how you connected faith, trust, and obedience. The three are so interconnected. If we truly believe He's all-knowing, all-loving, and sovereign, then surrendered obedience becomes that much easier. :)