Article 22 : Changing the world from Jesus' feet
It can be so hard can’t it to see what God is doing in this difficult season we are all living in. There certainly has never been a time on earth like it! I don’t know about you but there are moments where I am excited and other moments when I feel like, ‘God please can this be over?!’ One thing I’m certain I’m keeping central in my heart is continuing to ask God questions (like Jesus’ disciples did frequently) and hungering after worshipping Him with my whole heart, soul, mind and strength.
I believe we are in a new season where obedience to Jesus is being highlighted and a fresh discipleship movement is being birthed. The heart of discipling that Jesus emphasised revolved around 2 concepts that He framed for the apostles (His ones He was sending out) and His friends. The first was to be immersed in his presence – remember that was literally what following him meant. To be His disciples you stuck with Him in person ALL the time. Remember that’s also what He asked His disciples to do to the nations of the earth when they were to baptise in the name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit. Secondly, He asked them to be moulded by His words and give His words first position in their hearts and lives. That looked more broadly like moulding society as they moulded the systems, workplaces, homes and environments to the same values and principles that He gave them in His kingdom.
I believe Jesus’ church, particularly in the UK, is facing the invitation to continue changing or to struggle (and ultimately die). To understand what I mean let’s read this scripture below summarising Saul’s life (he was the first King of God’s people Israel and came before David).
1 Chronicles 10:13-14
"Saul died because he was unfaithful to the LORD; he did not keep the word of the LORD and even consulted a medium for guidance and did not inquire of the LORD."
Sometimes the Bible has some amazing scriptures that bring clarity to the biographies that the Lord has detailed for us to learn from. Here the writer, inspired by the Holy Spirit, summarises Saul’s demise. All of us want to enter eternity well and stand with Jesus. None of us want to follow Saul’s example, so let’s learn from him.
According to the chronicler Saul died because of disobedience to God’s words in his life. He did not keep or value the word of the Lord. He was given access to God’s words, but he chose to ignore them. Now actually when you read the account of his life, he partially obeyed what God had asked him to do. A helpful way of remembering what obedience is like, I learnt from John & Lisa Bevere (who’s material and books I rate highly). I remember them saying, ‘Obedience is right away, all the way and in a happy way’. Saul deliberately broke all three.
If we go forward in Saul’s story, he had to fill that gap with other voices and even consulted the dead. He was so ashamed he no longer wanted to look for God’s word but tried to replace that guidance with worthless and harmful alternatives. We all can be like that at times, but God has said we will live in this life only to the level we obey his words. That’s what Jesus meant when he quoted the Father’s voice to Israel:
But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”
If we go back in the verse, we see that Saul’s choices were because of a heart that was unfaithful. That’s a love word. He loved others and other things more. It was his heart that put more worth on people, material things and attention that was around him because he was afraid.
Learning to depend on God’s words, learning to read the Bible every day, learning to see our lives moulded into Jesus’ character is right at the heart of being his disciple. If for a short season we aren’t able to hear long sermons or teachings but are learning to engage practically with Jesus’ words in our life daily, then we are blessed for the future. As difficult as it may seem at moments, as frightening as change can be, I believe Father God will mould this season for our eternal good in the most extraordinary way.
Note that the fruit of Saul’s unfaithful heart was he stopped seeking God. He stopped asking him questions. It may seem really simple but asking questions together and seeking answers in God’s word is fundamental to be a disciple. What questions have you asked God so far today?
Let’s learn obedience, from the heart, to Jesus’ words, daily again. Many of us are mature disciples, others are just setting out on our relationship with Jesus but ALL of us together can receive the Holy Spirit softening our hearts to hunger and seek after Jesus’ words and his empowering to walk in them. That’s a word to all of us.
Let’s not be too ashamed like Saul to turn to listen to Jesus in his word. There is always hope no matter where we are starting from.
God’s words are the path of life. There is a narrow and small gate to choose every day and that gate is found sitting at Jesus feet. I’m Jesus’ disciple. You are Jesus’ disciple. Together we can change the world from Jesus’ feet.