I had never seen it before, and then a pastor pointed it out in a Sunday sermon: the word DIE is smack in the middle of obedience. Do you see it? It's not just semantics. It's reality. In order to truly follow after Jesus, we must die first, just like He did.
His obedience was to the point of death on the cross (Phil. 2:20). Our obedience is centered on the death of self -- the death of our flesh! The death of what I want to be doing instead of what He's asking me to do. The death of having things my way. The death of pursuing the things of this world. The death of being right. The death of pride. The death of personal aspirations. The death of luxury and pleasure. The death of having my own time to do what I want. The death of fitting in. The death of looking good. Sometimes even the death of a eight hours of sleep every night!
Jesus Himself said, "He who finds his life with lose it, but he who loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matt. 10:39). As the Lord completes His work in us to become holy as He is holy, our flesh must die in order that we might fully life. Romans 8:13 tells us, "For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live." It is God who will complete the work He starts in us. He turns our hearts toward Him, but we must respond with obedience. We must respond with the willingness and desire He places in us to follow Him, no matter what. As He draws us to the altar, we must surrender to His loving arms that lift us up in order to lay us down, a living sacrifice.
How do we arrive at that place of uninhibited sacrifice? The path to obedience is a simple one. It's not self-determination or will power. It's not through resolve or promises. It's not by doing all the right things or following a formula for right living. It's not reading every spiritual self-help book or following a strict to-do list. It's not reading the Bible more, praying more, worshipping more, serving more, or going to church more. It is falling in love with Him. The Lord is showing me that when my focus is loving rather than doing, the doing naturally follows. But if my focus is on the doing, I fall into a works mentality, and it becomes about me and not about Him. You see, when we love Him, our motivating desire will be to please Him. Funny thing is, as we're falling in love with Him, we will do all those things listed above, but it will be the result of our falling in love with Jesus rather than a means to manipulate a life of obedience by our own efforts.
Will you join me in falling in love with Jesus today? Will you spend some time reflecting on what He's done for you? Will you spend some time reading the word and learning more about Him? Will you spend some time talking honestly with the Father about where you are compared to where He wants you to be? Will you make it your heart's cry that the Lord would turn your heart more fully toward Him and give you the desperate love He wants you to have for Him?
May His transforming love draw you to the altar of obeDIEnce today.
Becoming wholly His,