How do we grow as Christians? As a pastor this is something I think about all the time. There are countless books, and Sunday school lessons, and weekend seminars designed to help people grow in their faith. I have tried programs and strategies to help my congregation grow in maturity just like any other pastor. If we were to define what a mature believer looked like, we don't have to look any further than the person of Jesus Christ. Of course we know that the method he used for growing his disciples is what we would call discipleship. But the art of discipleship has been lost to many of us since we no longer live in an apprentice/ teacher environment and instead our education has been delegated to others. Parents often make it the job of the youth pastor and school teachers to teach their kids, instead of taking on the role of primary teacher themselves.
However, I think there is one word that sums up the path to Christian maturity. It is a word I have fought against many times in many different ways. That word is obedience. Growing up anytime I asked my dad how to grow in my faith, he repeated the same words, “obedience is key.” But that was always difficult for me to understand, I tend to have a rebellious streak that can either work for me or against me. I've eventually found great value in using that rebellious streak for the Kingdom of God because I see Jesus as the greatest rebel that ever lived. Rebelling is about saying no to one system while conforming to another system you believe is more truthful. Jesus said no to the world but he was totally obedient to the Will of God. In fact one of the few people Jesus ever compliments is a soldier because he understood absolute obedience.
I want to just encourage you on this matter because I believe it is extremely important. The key to understanding obedience has to do with how we were designed to live. When we obey God, we often think of it with this sacrificial mentality, we say things like, “I know I need to give these things up to be more obedient...” But I do not think it is as sacrificial as we often think. If we were designed to be in fellowship with God then it is our sin, our rebellion against God that is not natural. We have just been living unnaturally for so long that it often feels like home, but nothing could be further from the truth. I use my iPhone for lots of things but can you imagine me trying to use it as a hammer to drive a nail? It might work once, perhaps even twice, but that is not the proper use of it and would destroy the phone. Our lives, though they may seem to work in many ways when we are outside of Gods will, we are damaging ourselves and others. Discipleship is simply showing others how to be obedient by being obedient ourselves.
So I want to encourage you today, to learn obedience. Everything else in the universe obeys God, from the laws of science to the birds in the sky, everything except for mankind who has been given the choice to look up to the heavens and tell God “NO!” The more I learn to obey, especially in areas where I am afraid to, I find the path of God is more beautiful than any path I could chart myself. I recall the old hymn, “Trust and Obey, for there is no other way...”
Jesus replied, "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching."
Caleb is lead pastor at Logos Church and enjoys writing about pop culture, Star Wars, Jesus and what effective ministry might look like in Tulsa.