When called to follow Christ (or serve in some capacity) many obstacles stand in our way:
But we are not asked to use anything other than faith to answer the call.
When the rich young ruler was called to accept a life of poverty he faced the choice of obedience or disobedience.
Levi and Peter faced similar choices- in each case they had to decide to “rely on Christ’s word, and cling to it as offering greater security than all the securities in the world.”
Today, we must make that same decision when faced with the choice to obey.
When Christ calls us to do something we shouldn’t use reason, logic, justifications or excuses. We shouldn’t try to turn a black and white issue into shades of grey in order to make the call more comfortable or acceptable.
We shouldn’t argue with ourselves like this:
“Jesus may have said: “Sell thy goods,” but he meant: “Do not let it be a matter of consequence to you that you have outward prosperity; rather keep your goods quietly, having them as if you had them not. Let not your heart be in your goods.”—We are excusing ourselves from single-minded obedience to the word of Jesus on the pretext of legalism and a supposed preference for obedience “In faith.” The difference between ourselves and the rich young man is that he was not allowed to solace his regret by saying: “Never mind what Jesus says, I can still hold on to my riches, but in a spirit of inner detachment. Despite my inadequacy I can take comfort in the thought that God has forgiven me my sins and can have fellowship with Christ in faith.” But no, he went away sorrowful. Because he would not obey, he could not believe.”
Bonhoeffer points out this young man knew the scriptures. He’d probably tried a thousand times to let go of his riches and failed. He could not have that ‘inner detachment’. Some of us can. This is not about giving away all your money to follow Christ, this is about God knowing what area of our lives we hold back and Him asking us to let go in order to have greater fellowship with Him.
Bonhoeffer points out other area’s we use justifications to excuse our disobedience.
“If Jesus challenged us with the command: “Get out of it,” we should take him to mean: “Stay where you are but cultivate that inward detachment.” Again, if he were to say to us: “Be not anxious,” we should take him to mean: “Of course it is not wrong for us to be anxious; we must work and provide for ourselves and our dependents. If we did not we should be shirking our responsibilities. But all the time we ought to be inwardly free from all anxiety.”
Why do we do this?
We expect our children to obey us entirely- to not make excuses for why they didn’t do as they were instructed. Why should we not give our Heavenly Father the same respect?
Employers expect workers to follow orders as directed, to not deviate from them. Why should our Great Commander not expect the same obedience?
“When orders are issued in other spheres of life there is no doubt whatever of their meaning.”
Jesus has our best in mind. He knows what we need better than we do- why not obey? Why do we feel the need to control the relationship?
“The step into the situation where faith is possible is not an offer which we can make to Jesus, but always his gracious offer to us.”
We all have areas we like to hold onto, Jesus knows this. He isn’t trying to take something away; He is trying to give something greater!
If we use scripture to justify our disobedience we are still being disobedient and placing ourselves under the law.
“[F]or in Jesus the law is at once fulfilled and cancelled…the whole Word of the Scriptures summons us to follow Jesus. We must not do violence to the Scriptures by interpreting them in terms of an abstract principle, even if that principle be a doctrine of grace. Otherwise we shall end up in legalism.”
God knows what areas we need to let go of. It will not be easy, which is why He asks us to let them go and trust Him.
“Obedience to the call of Jesus never lies within our own power.”
1. Is there something God is asking you to let go of? What’s stopping you?
2. Have you ever found yourself justifying or rationalizing why you are not following exactly what God has called you to do?
3. Are you like me and sometimes aren’t sure if God is asking you to do something? If so, how do you handle that situation? What do you do?
4. If obedience is not within our own power, is that an excuse to not obey or a motive to allow Christ to work in you and through you?