Originally published September 25, 2015
Nobody could ever accuse Christianity of being easy. A religion that tells you to die to self and take up your cross daily is no walk in the park. And there’s no magical moment in this life when you’ve suddenly “arrived” at the top level of spiritual maturity where everything in the Bible makes perfect sense, your prayer life is phenomenal every day, obeying Christ’s commands is a breeze, and you’re floating around on a little cloud of holiness.
We are all messed up, muddling through, and constantly battling the flesh, from the person who got saved five minutes ago to the theologian who’s been walking with the Lord for decades.
It’s hard enough to obey the Scriptures we embrace – love one another, be kind, be truthful – but then we encounter Scriptures that, for whatever reason, we butt heads with. Scriptures to which our initial, fleshly reaction is, “No way. I’m not doing that.” We argue with them. We look for loopholes and ways we can get around them. We reason out all sorts of caveats as to why that Scripture doesn’t apply to us or why we don’t have to obey it.
My parents hurt me deeply. There’s no way I’m going to honor the people who did that to me.
God gave me a special gifting and called me to preach. It doesn’t matter that I’m a woman.
Why should I forgive him? He’s never even said he’s sorry!
You have no idea how badly she hurt me. I’ll never be able to love her or pray for her.
There’s no denying it, sometimes obeying a certain Scripture will be the hardest thing we ever do. But slaves to Christ are not given the option of saying “no” to their Master. If you’ll look in your Bible at the verse you’re struggling against, you’ll notice there’s no asterisk next to it that says, “except you.”
When we approach one of God’s commands to Christians and decide we’re not going to obey it because we don’t want to or shouldn’t have to or it’s too hard, what we’re really doing is setting ourselves above the Bible in judgment of it and coming to the conclusion that we know better than God.
Yeah, that’s not a good idea. Especially for Christians.
Ever read the book of Job? Job went through some pretty awful stuff. Stuff that I certainly would have argued against and questioned God about just like he did. And yet, despite all of Job’s suffering, God didn’t give him a pass.
And the Lord said to Job:
“Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?
He who argues with God, let him answer it.”
Then Job answered the Lord and said:
“Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you?
I lay my hand on my mouth.
I have spoken once, and I will not answer;
twice, but I will proceed no further.”
And how does this grab you?
But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?
Do you get the sense from these verses, which address very different situations, that God isn’t crazy about people questioning His sovereignty, His decisions, or His word, regardless of their circumstances?
God is God. We are not.
God sets the rules for Christianity, not “everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes.”
Lots of times we think we have to “feel comfortable” with a certain Scripture if we’re to obey it, but the truth is just the opposite. When we say, “Lord, I don’t want to do this, but I’m going to do it anyway because I love You and Your word says so,” guess what happens? God begins to change our hearts. In time, He helps us grow to embrace the Scriptures we once rejected. He helps us to love others and see them through His eyes.
Yes, it is going to be hard. There are going to be times when we have to grit our teeth, hold our noses, and obey Christ even when everything inside us screams, “NO!“
But we have a precious Savior who has promised to help us be content in any circumstance and will give us the strength to do anything He puts in front of us.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
I’ve fought. I’ve cried. I’ve whined, “I can’t!” And every time God has brought me back to this verse that says, “Yes, you can, and I’ll help you.” And you know what? He did.
Obedience is hard, but Christ is worth it.