The Cost of Obedience
- By Benita Joy
- Published 01/13/2009
Benita Joy is a Malayalee Christian and serves as the Chief Editor for South Asian Connection. She is a woman of faith, gifted in the area of leadership and administration, and has a heart for world missions. Her desire is to live a life that is pure and to serve God's purposes in her generation. Benita is pursuing a double major in English and Psychology at the University of British Columbia. She loves big cities, chai, the internet, roller coasters, international cuisines, music, and hanging out with friends. She is the youngest member of Team SAC, plays guitar with a baby pink pick (Yikes!), and she's not much taller than your average dwarf (don't tell her that).
It's funny how over the last year (or two or three), whenever I'm faced with a decision where I have to choose between obedience to my parents or pursuing what I believe is God's plan for my life, in my mind, I always resort back to that verse in the Bible where it says, "Obedience is better than sacrifice." The opposite of obedience being rebellion in that I'm following my sense of reason instead of choosing to remain within the authority of my parents and elders, whoever they may be. But lately though, I've really been questioning how far obedience is supposed to go. I'm an adult in my mid-20's and when obedience to parents trumps everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, then somehow it doesn't feel right anymore. I've passed up opportunities that were good for me, that I had prayed about and felt God's leading, simply because in the end, my parents didn't agree. What the actual will of God in those cases were, I couldn't tell you because I never even gave it shot. So here I am, sitting at home, just dawdling my days away because this is what my family wants, and it doesn't feel right. It feels wrong and frustrating. And I've been desperately asking God what is the purpose of leaving me hanging in this limbo. It feels like, this whole year, I've been at a crossroads where no matter what I decide, someone will inevitably get hurt. So either I'm miserable or everyone's disppointed in me--neither of which sounds too appealing. Anyhow, yesterday I was about to fall asleep and God comes along and asks me to open up my devotional and read whatever was there for the day. Well, I'm glad I listened because I experienced a much needed shift in my thoughts on obedience.
Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest had the following devotional for January 11.
What My Obedience to God Costs Other People
"As they led Him away, they laid hold of a certain man, Simon . . . , and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus" —Luke 23:26
If we obey God, it is going to cost other people more than it costs us, and that is where the pain begins. If we are in love with our Lord, obedience does not cost us anything— it is a delight. But to those who do not love Him, our obedience does cost a great deal. If we obey God, it will mean that other people’s plans are upset. They will ridicule us as if to say, "You call this Christianity?" We could prevent the suffering, but not if we are obedient to God. We must let the cost be paid.
When our obedience begins to cost others, our human pride entrenches itself and we say, "I will never accept anything from anyone." But we must, or disobey God. We have no right to think that the type of relationships we have with others should be any different from those the Lord Himself had (see Luke 8:1-3).
A lack of progress in our spiritual life results when we try to bear all the costs ourselves. And actually, we cannot. Because we are so involved in the universal purposes of God, others are immediately affected by our obedience to Him. Will we remain faithful in our obedience to God and be willing to suffer the humiliation of refusing to be independent? Or will we do just the opposite and say, "I will not cause other people to suffer"? We can disobey God if we choose, and it will bring immediate relief to the situation, but it will grieve our Lord. If, however, we obey God, He will care for those who have suffered the consequences of our obedience. We must simply obey and leave all the consequences with Him.
Beware of the inclination to dictate to God what consequences you would allow as a condition of your obedience to Him.