The Church and Christians both have a lot of challenges today. We are living in a world of increasing intolerance and division. Rather than creating more disciples of Christ, more people are turning to atheism or other secular beliefs. However, if we practiced simple obedience to Jesus, we would demonstrate a vital truth. Real Christianity has real answers to the problems we face today. When we practice obedience, our experience of Jesus and our relationship with God surges.
Sometimes We KNOW It But We Don’t GET It
There is a Difference Between Education and Application
“Education without application is just entertainment” – Tim Sanders. This quote rings true in many areas of life. A person can read a recipe or the latest devotional study all day long, but reading something is vastly different than putting it to action. If you want Grandma’s Coconut Cake, you gotta bake it, and if you are ever gonna get it right, you’ll likely have to attempt it more than once.
Matthew 28:17-20 (NLT) When they saw Him, they worshiped Him—but some of them doubted! 18 Jesus came and told His disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Faith is Stepping Out into Jesus’ Truth
Faith is not merely about knowing, it’s about doing. Peter’s water walk is a perfect example of this principle. In order to get to Jesus, Peter was told to walk on water to Him. There were no classes, no small group discussion about water walking. Peter simply took one step and waited to see what would happen. His journey was one step of faith upon a raging sea, followed by another and another. Obedience to Jesus is like walking on water. Jesus tells you what to do. Jesus tells you that you can do it. But, you decide if you will be a water walker or stuck in the boat for fear of drowning.
Jesus Looked for the Obedient, Not the Talented
They Left Everything to Follow Jesus
How do we know this? Jesus made that clear, over and over again throughout the New Testament. If we want to follow Jesus, we will have to leave something behind. Peter, James, John, and Andrew all left the fishing business to follow Jesus. Matthew left his lucrative tax table. Even Judas left all for Jesus.
John 14:23 (NLT) Jesus replied, “All who love Me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and We will come and make Our home with each of them.
They Did what Jesus Told them to Do
These men were not yet believers, but they were followers. They did what Jesus told them to do, ESPECIALLY when it didn’t make sense. Jesus told His disciples to leave their possessions behind, go to every town and tell people that the kingdom is near. He told them to heal the sick, throw out the devils, and raise the dead. They followed Jesus no matter where He guided them. In Jesus’ plan, followers either become Believers or just LEAVERS and it’s the believers who become disciple-makers.
What If We Obeyed Jesus
Not Information, Action
Maybe you read the Bible, but how does that change your day? Reading scripture or listening to a sermon isn’t about checking something off your to-do list or assuaging guilt. Jesus teaches about the importance of listening to God and taking action based upon what is heard. This is also how your “ordinary” faith is meant to grow.
Matthew 7:24,26 (NLT) “Anyone who listens to My teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 26 But anyone who hears My teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.
Not Assent, but Practice
Jesus told us to obey His commands. We must learn them and do them, as obedience is a step of faith. There is a certain weakness we experience when we attempt to obey Jesus. We must step, focus, step, focus, step, Jesus! The faith isn’t in the step, it’s in Jesus. Remember what Jesus said to Peter when he sank:
Matthew 14:31 (NLT) Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt Me?”
- Doubting that Jesus is enough for this, is what is sinking us.
Consider the Changes our Life Would Birth
So much of our inner turmoil is that we won’t do what He said. We won’t give up our way. We won’t take up our cross. He is the Lord, we are His followers. His job is to command. Ours is to obey. Sometimes we get that turned around and try to command Him instead. He’s so kind that He probably speaks to us like He spoke to Peter: “You have so little faith. Why do you doubt Me?”
How Could You Change Your Ordinary Faith TODAY?
Move away from just gathering information. Step toward obedience by following Jesus in action. Every experience is an opportunity to practice obedience. For each experience ask:
- What does this teach me about God?
- What does this teach me about people?
- If this is from God, what should I do/obey in response?
- Who should I share this with?
When we practice obedience, our experience of Jesus and relationship with God surges.