How do we obey God?

Have you ever asked how we actually, practically obey God? Have you ever wondered how we are supposed to do all the things that God commands? I have, and I have had a very hard time asking this question because most people respond with a “you just do it”. I always feel so discouraged because I can’t just channel my inner Nike to obey God with the obedience He deserves. I feel like I should just be able to try harder and then I will obey God better.

But with this mentality, I miss so much of the Gospel picture and have put too much responsibility on myself. Instead of relying on God, this mentality lets me rely on me. 

I teach Sunday School in the 3-5 year old classroom, and I have the honor of being able to modify and organize curriculum from The Gospel Project for the class each week. It is an honor to serve my church through curriculum management because I get to soak myself in the material to see the Gospel clearly and help the other teachers see the Gospel too, so that we can share it with the little ones. Now, I have had to practice how to share the Gospel to 3, 4, and 5 year olds, and I’m so encouraged to hear how I’ve grown and how the kids, whom I’ve worked with for almost 2 years, are coming to understand the Gospel better and better each week. I love these kids and their families deeply, and I love knowing that we are preaching Jesus and His Gospel (not our gospels of “work harder”, “try better”, or “do more”). I also love when the lessons in the classroom are lessons that my heart needs to hear, like figuring out how to be an obedient Christian. 

For the month of January, we are answering the question “How do we obey God?” with the answer “We TRUST God to help us obey Him”. I’ve never gotten this answer, but I think it is much more accurate with how God wants us to obey Him. We cannot obey God (even imperfectly obey Him) with harder work, more rules, and better obedience. It doesn’t work. It is like us having a New Year’s resolution to go to the gym with your new workout schedule and a “try harder” attitude, and failing again and again no matter what our schedule or attitude. Except our failure isn’t with a fitness goal, but it is the goal to bring the Most High God all the honor, glory, and praise that He deserves, and help others to know Him too. It’s a bit more serious, and yet, we all fail over and over. So we ask “How?” and we often hear “try more” and we begrudgingly repeat the cycle.

I challenge you to break your cycle. I challenge you to stop responding to “How can I obey God?” with a Bible reading or prayer plan (both are good, but they aren’t going to inherently lead to obedience) or guilt or a “try better” attitude. I challenge you to sprint, walk, or crawl to the Creator of the Universe who is waiting for you, and ask Him to help you obey. Ask HIM for a heart that wants to bring Him glory through obedience. Ask HIM to change your heart. Ask HIM to reveal to you how you need to be obedient. Ask HIM. And then let Him change you.

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin. Let us then draw near to the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”- Hebrews 4:14-16 

He may be calling you to dive deeper in relationships with believers to strengthen your faith and theirs. He may be calling you to seek Him through His word, through prayer, and through worship. He may be calling you to serve Him in a different or challenging way. He will give you the strength and grace you need to fulfill whatever He is calling you to do. I pray that we can stop telling ourselves that we can just try better and work harder to be obedient servants of the Lord. I pray that we can draw near to our loving Father and ask Him to help us follow Him in whatever way He is calling us.

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2 Thessalonians 1:11

A short thought on what I have been reading:

Paul prays in this verse that the thessalonians would be counted worthy of the calling.  The calling, here is a calling to live and work for the glory of God (v12) BECAUSE they had many that were persecuting them (v3-11).

I often think that if I am not suffering, then I am not “doing this christian thing” right.  This verse was a reminder to me that some are called at some points to suffer, but that not everyone, all the time.  Yes still, our central calling, regardless of how much or how little persecution and suffering we face is to live lives so that Jesus can be glorified in you, according to the grace of God.