Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Grown Through Obedience

Our relationship with God is grown through our experience of Him in our lives more than our knowledge about Him. A growing relationship with God is the result of our obedience to Him and through our obedience experiencing God working through our lives.

The reason so many people are frustrated in their relationship with God has little to do with their passion, their love for God, or their worship. It has everything to do with their obedience. We will always be frustrated in our relationship with God when we approach Him on our terms rather than willing to obey what He has command us to do.

The New Testament contains a story which illustrates this very principle. Matthew 19:16-30 tells the story of the rich young man and how he missed having a relationship with God through Jesus. The young man came to Jesus with a question; “What must I do to have eternal life?” The young man knew there was something missing in his life. He had wealth and at least had a desire to live a moral life, but that wasn’t enough. The young man came to Jesus for the answer, but the answer is not what the young man wanted to hear. “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.” Jesus tells the young man what he is to do, but the young man wouldn’t do it. “But when the young man heard this, he went sadly away because he had many possessions” (NLT).

The young man wanted eternal life on his terms. Yes, he realized something was missing from his life, but he had his limits to what he was willing to do. Because he was not willing to do what Jesus asked he went away sad. I have a feeling that if Jesus had asked the young man to fast for 40 days he would have done it. If Jesus had asked the young man to spend time in study I think the young man would have made his best effort. The young man had a desire for eternal life, a desire to know God better and deeper.

Many of us have a desire to know God better and deeper. We want eternal life. Not just Heaven, how wonderful and glorious that will be, but a significant life now. We want to have an eternal relationship with God. We can list off the things we have done in order to have this relationship, yet we still find something is missing. All our quiet times and prayers have not brought us closer to knowing God. The reason we have missed God is because we have failed to do what He has asked. We are sad in our relationship with God because we are not willing to come to Him on His terms.

Jesus asks us to be baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. We walk away frustrated because that is a “work” and a relationship with God is built on “faith”.

Jesus asks us to invest time in the elderly couple next door. We cry out to God for His presence because we are too busy to go next door, there are more important things to do.

The reason men like Abraham, Moses, and David had amazing relationships with God is not because of their quiet times and fasting. It is because through the actions of their faith they experienced God’s presence in their lives. “Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was declared right with God because of what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, he was trusting God so much that he was willing to do whatever God told him to do. His faith was made complete by what he did—by his actions” (James 2:21-22; NLT). Abraham was willing to follow God even if it meant giving up his son Isaac. Are you willing to go so far?

A relationship with God is not just found in the study of His Word and in prayer. A relationship with God is developed through our obedience, as we step out in faith and experience God at work in our lives. We need to stop coming to God on our terms and begin to surrender ourselves to who He is.


Anonymous said...

While I think you are essentially right in your comments about obedience, still you cannot obey one you do not know about. It is the knowledge that results in the faith that results in the obedience. As we obey, our trust grows too and the relationship grows stronger, but it is in knowing about Him that begins the process of coming to have a relationship with Him. It is an essential.

--Hawkeye Gold

Joy in the Journey said...

This is very interesting. . .

God created my brain to be investigative in nature. I REALLY like to know the "why" behind an event or someone's way of thinking. I ask a lot of questions, but I don't mean to be disrespectful. Perhaps I missed my calling to be a psychologist. . .

Hawkeye Gold, when you are writing about knowledge, do you mean I have to understand the "why" of why something happened to me? Or the why of how God thinks the way He does? His ways are DEFINITELY not my ways.

My faith, which I believe is one of my spiritual gifts, was built upon seeing God's rescuing hand in my life. As low as I've been, He's been lower. I don't know the why of His methods, but my faith is very strong in knowing that He is always there. Can I have this strong faith without book knowledge of Him?

And does obedience always follow faith? For me, it was backwards. My obedience to Him came before my faith became strong. I had to get rid of me in the center of my life and start serving Him, my husband, and my children through obedience before His works in my life built my faith.

Is this process different for everybody?

I would love to hear your personal experience, both of you gentlemen, as to how God has done this in your lives.


Only 38 more days until the opening of Bucky football.

Anonymous said...

Subjectivism is a problem in the Church. It equates personal experience with the revealed will of God in the Scripture.

My concern is that there are many who talk about having a born-again experience, and knowing the Lord, but really do not know about Him. Larry Flynt had one.

Of course there is the counter argument that there are those who know about Jesus that do not know Him; I will grant that. Still, there is no record in the New Testament of one who became a Christian who did not hear about Jesus before he put his faith in Him; that includes Saul who became Paul.

Subjectivity and objectivity both can lead to error. One makes feelings and personal experience the guide. The other can result in legalism. One has to be careful because there is an appropriate place for both subjectivism and objectivism; of necessity, there has to be!

My personal experience is that it was through preaching and teaching that I came to know about Jesus. It was in knowing about Jesus that I came to have faith in Him. It was in believing in Jesus that I came to obey Him. It is in obeying Him that I came to trust Him more.

I hadn't started the countdown yet, but it's gonna be a great year in football for the Hawkeye state.

Hawkeye Gold

Paul said...

Hey Joy thanks for the questions. You might have to be a little patient with HG since he is on the left coast right now visiting his oldest daughter.

How does one come to faith? Faith is the result of hearing the Good News (Romans 10:14). Knowledge is absolutely the foundation of faith. But here is the problem I have. I struggle following Jesus, not because I lack knowledge. Having grown up in the home of a preacher/farmer/counselor, graduating from Bible College, and reading scores of books there really is little anyone else can tell me about God (outside of their opinion). So if I have the knowledge about God why do I still sin? It is, partly because I don't trust God enough. Trust isn't built through knowledge, it is built through experience. How do I experience God? In the language of Henry Blackaby: I adjust my life to His will.

Think for a moment about the rich young man I mentioned. Would he ever really know God as provider if he always relied on his wealth for food, shelter, and clothing? The only way he could experience God would be to adjust his life to Jesus' command: obedience.

Did Abraham's faith grow because he read scriptures and fasted? No, it grew because when God said, "Go," Abraham went. So if we find ourselves stuck in our relationship with God the answer probably isn't to read a new book or attend a new study, but to adjust our lives to God's will.

I have grown more the past six months in my relationship with God than I have since doing Experiencing God (sometimes a new study will be the answer). There is reason is because I got out of ministry based on what God was asking me to do. I know that there are people who have thought I was crazy, but then people would have thought that about the rich young man if he sold all he had and followed Jesus, but I am certain it was the right thing to do. When this is all said and done I will share more fully about how I have experienced God's love, provision, and purpose in my life.

Anonymous said...

I am going to bring this down to the bottom shelf so I can get my mind around this conversation.

Jesus described the process of disciple making "teaching them to obey everything I have commanded and surely I am with you always..." One must hear of the Christ first. But here is an interesting thought: The rich young ruler was focused on eternal life. So this thought goes through my mind, would a follower of Jesus love him with all their heart, mind, and soul even if there was no promise of eternal life? Is one motivated by eternal life or by Jesus?

Doesn't the command to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength encompass this entire conversation?

Doesn't Bucky's football coach have a Tiger Hawk tattooed on his ankle?

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