Monday, July 10, 2006

Obedience? What's that?

One of the things that I think God is really trying to embed in my brain is the idea that there are so many facets to the body of Christ, that no one has everything all figured out and that all that God calls us to do is to be obedient to Him, not to work out our own salvation or the salvation of each other. As a friend of mine says, “God doesn't call us to statistics, but to obedience.”

How do I know He is pounding me with these thoughts? Well, it’s been running around my mind a lot, class at church is constantly referring to it, God has been introducing many new people to me – some who I wonder how they are to fit into my life because of their choices in lifestyle, the scriptures that I’ve been reading are on this very subject (I’m reading Acts now), even my other readings have been laced with these thoughts and last night, I heard the most convincing sermon that God is speaking directly to me from a well-spoken, enthusiastic guest speaker. (The really neat thing about this speaker – Jerry Taylor (click on the link to hear his words from last night)– is that when I went to thank him for speaking and that I really needed it, I found out that we were from the same church when we were growing up. He was about nine years older than me so we were on different life levels at the time when I would have known him. But still, it is good to see others from your home town.)

How are we to be obedient, you ask? Just two things – that’s all it boils down to once you do some simmering on these subjects: Love God with every part of your life (thoughts, actions, money, etc.) and love others. Not just those that are in your family, your friends or others at your church – love everyone else who does not fit into the previous category.

Those who cut you off on the highway, those who disagree with you, those who live life with a different purpose than you, those who wait on you in a business, those who criticize you or your children, those who refuse to look you in the eye, those who are struggling to keep clothes on their back, those who chose to not wear clothes even though they can afford them, those who are hypocritical, those who grate on your nerves, those who are different from you in any way imaginable, those who are sick, those who attend different church than you, those who look unlovable. All of them and more.

Simple, huh?

Yeah, it’s not always so simple. But it is doable. I know this because when it comes to God, impossible is nothing. Plus, He has proven this situation possible time and time again. And I find that the more I practice setting my opinions/standards aside or my need to be right and really start to love another person because Christ died for him/her too, the easier it is to do the next time. And the blessings of having such a burden of having to be right all the time removed is so refreshing and freeing for my mind as well as my soul, not to mention for those who are around me.

Do I have it down pat where it is an automatic response? Ummm, no. For example, there is one person at church who is still holding a grudge against me for speaking the truth (in love, I promise!) and she has polluted some others to not really speak to me. It’s really hard not to retaliate because the flesh of me wants to say, “Oh yeah? Take that!” But the Holy Spirit in me is constantly (and I do mean constantly – it’s amazing that the Holy Spirit really doesn't shake its head at me all the time) reminding me that God has called me to be a peacemaker since I am the daughter of God. (Remember this one? “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.” – Matt 5:9 One of the characteristics of belonging to Him is that I should let go of the “joy of being right” and to strive to know the “joy of being righteous.” And there is a huge difference between the two.) So rather than smear her name, I chose to lift it up to God and ask that she find peace and forgiveness towards me. Now it should be out of my hands and I really shouldn’t dwell on it anymore. (But sometimes I do, so I know that I’ve got a ways to go in my spiritual walk… Sigh.)

So I’m on this journey to practice obedience. The road is going to be long with lots of potholes and obstacles in my way. But God will get me to where I want to be, and that should be worth the minor inconveniences along the way. And everyone knows that a trip is so much better when you have company, so if you want to be a fellow traveler, I can always use another passenger to keep me going in the right directions… or sometimes just to keep me going at all.

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