- the state or quality of being obedient. (complying with or submissive to authority)
- the act or practice of obeying; dutiful or submissive compliance: Military service demands obedience from its members.
- a sphere of authority or jurisdiction, especially ecclesiastical.
The Rich Young Man was obeying the commandments but his obedience was not enough. Why? His obedience was not enough because it was not a result of faith in God. His obedience was not evidence of a life surrendered to God. If the Rich Young Man’s life had been surrendered to Jesus he would not have walked away sad. He would have walked away with great enthusiasm, making plans to disperse his wealth among the poor and needy all to bring glory to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His sadness only serves to illustrate that the god the Rich Young Man worshipped was, in fact, his wealth and possessions.
I have always maintained that it is more difficult to be a good Christian here in America than in other parts of the world, especially the parts where Christians are persecuted for their faith. No, I am not crazy or deluded. Yes, I get it that Christians in the Middle East or in China or India are actively persecuted for their faith every day. I am fully aware that they are beaten and imprisoned, even killed, for their faith. I get that, I do. Here's my point, those Christians hold onto their faith. They lean into Jesus and depend upon Him for their comfort and their salvation on a daily basis. They have a relationship with Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Here in America we get up and go to church on Sunday morning (or Saturday evening in my case) and we sing a few songs and listen to our pastors preach soul-stirring sermons. Then we go home and live our little American lives. Most American "Christians" forget about God and Jesus and the Bible for 6 1/2 days of the week. They forget to pray, they forget to read their Bible and they forget to cultivate a relationship with God. They let idols into their lives, idols that pull them away from authentic Christian living. Idols that lead them away from obedience.
1 John 2:3-6 says: We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
Okay, you have decided you want to obey Him. You want God's love and grace and mercy in your life. You want to authentically worship and adore God. How do you know what to do? What are His commands that we need to obey? I'm glad you asked. Here's my list. This list contains the things I believe are essential to an authentic Christian life. They are not all-inclusive, just the major items. Also, recognize that this list reflects my opinion. There may be others with a stronger walk that have a different opinion.
- First and foremost, pray. Speak with God daily. Let Him lead your life, help you with your decisions and support you in your grief. Thank Him for His blessings and share your joy with Him.
- Read your Bible daily. There are several ways to do this. There are online reading plans and some Bibles are set up to be read in one or two years. There are smart phone apps and I'm sure even there is even software so you can read the Bible on an eReader. There are many ways to read your Bible. The idea here is to read it. Get to know God's love letter to you.
- Join a small group Bible Study. Find other like-minded Christians and delve deep into God's word. The Bible is not an easy book to understand, the support of others , the perspective of others helps. I have learned volumes in my small group. Plus, we not only study the Bible together, we also pray with and for each other and provide accountability for each other.
- Go on a mission trip. Start out with a short-term trip or two, some missions work can be done in just a few hours. Some other trips require a full day, even 2 or 3. There are week-long trips, 2 week trips, even trips lasting a month or more. Short term mission trips usually have the goal of filling short-term needs. Collecting and/or distributing food, building homes, feeding the homeless and hungry, planting flowers at a local school or even just taking a group of senior citizens out to enjoy the sunshine. The object of these trips is to show the world God's love. You are being His hands and His feet when you do these things.
- If you are not able to set aside your life to go on a long-term, multiple year, for the rest of your life type mission trip find someone who is. Support them in any and all ways possible. That may be financial support. That may be helping them with logistics or family or the one hundred and one little details they need help with. Most importantly, that means pray for them.
- Whether at home or away on the mission field remember that Jesus' final words to us call us to spread the gospel. "Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." John Piper answers that verse with this quote, "Go, send or disobey." Yes, it really is that simple.