We must be careful to listen to what God wants us to do. Most of us know what that might be, and the Bible is pretty clear. However, most people think actually doing it is a sucky idea.
Doing what God says should be clear to most Christians, who really honestly want to do it, but obedience for humans on any spiritual plane is typically conditional. Here are the compelling reasons why people do stuff:
– Purpose: Am I going to get something out of it?
– Preservation: Will it endanger my lifestyle?
– Worldview: Does it conflict with what I believe?
– Conscience: Does it conflict with how I feel?
– Comparison: Has someone else been successful despite not doing it?
Subconsciously or otherwise, everyone considers at least one of these questions before making decisions. What God wants us to do, however, might make us uncomfortable, and it may not involve our own agenda or personal desires. Indeed, the Lord would love for us to be “prosperous and successful”, which many doctrines in church today support through their methodological teaching, but what if being obedient to Him meant defying our best interests?
Because you’re a human, there’s a good chance you’re not going to do exactly what God wants.
But understand this: you are still useful to God in your flawed state. Keep reading.
Paul in his work for the church was not exempt from wrestling with his humanity. Christians still have to deal with that. He writes about this inner conflict in Romans,
O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
And again in 2 Corinthians,
And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.
Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
But this inner conflict only propelled him into further obedience, as shown in Acts 21 when he decided to head to Jerusalem. Despite warnings that his life would be in jeopardy, he ignores his personal desires and goes for it.
And the people in Jerusalem, the mass of religious folks stuck on themselves and their traditions, didn’t like it. Soon afterward, riots, an arrest, and beatings would ensue.
Paul was not perfect; but in this state of imperfection, he looked to do what God wanted.
Are you willing to obey God, even if it means bodily harm or a dramatic shift in your worldview? Christianity, in its unadulterated and purest state, is the only religion in the world that conflicts with personal desires. It is the dogma of absolute selflessness, and Jesus Christ is the figurehead and the greatest example.
If you are living for yourself, you are not living for God. Obedience to God means letting go of the god of Self.
This weekend, go ahead and take the well-deserved time off, or head to the store and treat yourself to a new outfit. We’re supposed to do that, actually.
But man, if God asks you to put yourself away, are you willing to do it? Really?