When Obedience Isn't Comfortable

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians. 1:1-2

I find it hard to begin to think about the content of these verses without imagining Paul’s setting as he is writing this book. He wrote this letter to the church in Ephesus while in prison.  Think about it.  Paul was able to be used by God even when his situation was not the easiest.  He didn’t have the perfect setting.  He probably wasn’t comfortable and it wasn’t convenient for him to write this letter to the church in Ephesus, but he was obedient.

Through God’s sovereign decree, Paul was an apostle.  God chose to open Paul’s eyes to the truth of the gospel and set him apart for the good work for which He had called him. If we are believers in Christ, God has opened our eyes and given us the gift of faith.  Now we must choose how we will use this gift.  Will we sow to our flesh or sow to the Spirit, through His strength and power, being obedient to what the Lord has called us to do(Galatians 6:7-9)?

I will be the first to admit that this is hard.  It is much easier to sit on the sidelines, watching others use their gifts in the church.  It is hard to take that first step in obedience and trust God, not being afraid of the outcome or what others might think. It’s hard to walk up to a visitor at church and introduce myself; it’s much easier to dash out the back door.  It’s hard to open my home and invite a family that I don’t know well over for dinner.  Will they notice the crumbs on the floor and the messy rooms? Will we find enough in common to talk about?  What if my cooking isn’t the best?  It’s difficult to talk to my co-workers about my faith and invite them to church.  What if they don’t respond well?

Friends, this is the encouragement that I have found in all of these “what ifs:” The results are not up to us.  Our job is to step out in obedience and watch God do the rest.  What if that visitor at church feels welcomed enough to come back again because we took the opportunity to reach out to them?  What if deeper relationships are built in the church because we welcome others inside our homes?  What if our co-worker does accept the invitation and God opens their eyes to the truth of the gospel, radically changing their life?  Are these things worth the risk? Yes! Jesus is worth it.  The spread of the gospel is worthy of us being a little uncomfortable.  

However, we cannot do these things in our own strength.  The power to boldly step out in faith comes straight from the Spirit through the word of God.  Only when we are connected daily to the Lord through His Word do we even become aware of the needs around us.  

Let us open up God’s word this week.  You are not alone in this.

James 1:22 calls us to be “doers of the word, and not hearers only.”  Theologian Kevin Vanhoozer explains “Because God does do more than convey information to us through the Bible, so those of us who read the Bible have to be more than information processors.  A robust view of biblical authority requires us to obey its commands, trust promises, sing its songs, heed its wisdom, and hope for its ending.”

I love that.  Sing its songs. Trust its promises.  Heed its wisdom.  What is God’s will for us? To live according to the scriptures.  We are to love God’s word and make it our life.  May we long for His word in the morning, meditate on it during the day, and rest in it throughout the night.  

Paul addresses the Ephesians as “faithful in Christ Jesus.”  Being “in Christ” is a common theme throughout the book of Ephesians.  We can only be faithful and step out in obedience through the work of the Spirit in our lives.  In and of ourselves, we will always choose our flesh.  Only through the work of the Spirit in our lives will we become “doers” of the word.
Has God called you to do something out of obedience to Him and you are still sitting on the sidelines? Are you waiting for the perfect timing or circumstances?  Paul’s modeled for us to use the time we are given, even if the circumstances aren’t perfect.  
So, I encourage you this week to pray and honestly seek the Lord.  Spend time studying God’s word daily and watch him open your eyes to opportunities to put that word into action right where he has placed you.

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